Alabama Prison Crisis Continues with Homicide at Elmore


Marquis Hatcher, 31, was killed Friday in an assault in a dormitory at Elmore Correctional Facility in Elmore, Alabama.

Mr. Hatcher was 17 when he was arrested and charged with burglary and theft of property. He had served nearly 13 years of a 20-year sentence at the time of his death.

Mr. Hatcher is at least the 17th person killed in an Alabama prison this year. Nearly half were 35 years old or younger when they died:

Alabama has been on notice for over four years that the dangerous conditions within its prisons are unconstitutional.

In April 2019, the Department of Justice notified the state and the Alabama Department of Corrections that Alabama’s failure to protect incarcerated people from high levels of violence—described as “too common, cruel, of an unusual nature, and pervasive”—violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

Despite this, very little has been done to reduce the unprecedented level of violence in Alabama’s prisons. At least 52 homicides have been recorded in the state’s prisons since the publication of the Justice Department’s report.  

Mortality in Alabama’s prisons is also at an all-time high.

The most recent report from ADOC shows that it recorded 204 deaths in the first 11 months of fiscal year 2022, making it the deadliest in the department’s history.

Alabama’s prison homicide rate over the same time period was 80 homicides per 100,000 people incarcerated. This is nearly seven times higher than the national average most recently reported by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Neither the Alabama Department of Corrections nor the governor’s office has announced any efforts, proposed changes, or new policies in response to the outbreak of homicides in the state’s prisons this year.