Ariene Kimbrough, 35, was killed on Wednesday in an apparent inmate-on-inmate assault at Limestone Correctional Facility. Mr. Kimbrough would have been eligible for parole and release in three months, on April 1.
The Alabama Department of Corrections has not released information about the homicide other than that Mr. Kimbrough was “discovered deceased inside his cell.” But initial reports received by EJI from people at the prison indicate that he was stabbed to death in a segregation unit.
Mr. Kimbrough’s killing is the 19th homicide in Alabama prisons in the past year, and the second at Limestone in the past three months. Kenyon Arrington, 34, was stabbed to death at the prison on October 15, 2022.
The crisis in Alabama’s prisons and at Limestone in particular was highlighted in November when former long-serving correctional officer Stacy George announced that Limestone was collapsing from violence and mismanagement.
“[T]his has to be handled right now,” he said in front of ADOC headquarters. “It can’t go any further, because this is the boiling point.”
Mr. George reported that a critical shortage of officers at the prison means that staff are unable to observe or respond to many assaults. “There could be someone bleeding to death in a cell and you might not know it for hours,” he said.
Alabama has been on notice for years about the unconstitutionally dangerous and deadly conditions in its men’s prisons. In April 2019, the Justice Department reported to state leaders that ADOC is “a broken system that too often disregards prisoners’ safety.”
Federal prosecutors found “a high level of violence that is too common, cruel, of an unusual nature, and pervasive,” and reported that “an excessive amount of violence, sexual abuse, and prisoner deaths occur within Alabama’s prisons on a regular basis.”
Conditions in Alabama’s prisons have only gotten worse since 2019. Last year was the deadliest in Alabama’s prisons since the state began publishing regular reports on deaths in custody in 2000.
The prison homicide rate has risen sharply. In 2014, Alabama’s prisons recorded five homicides and a homicide rate of 20 per 100,000 prisoners. The rate doubled between 2014 and 2018, when there were 11 prison homicides and a rate of 49 per 100,000.
The rate has nearly doubled again between 2018 and 2022, with 18 homicides and an estimated homicide rate of 90 per 100,000.
ADOC has not announced any efforts being taken to reduce prisoner deaths.
Instead, it announced that it will no longer include inmate death totals in its monthly statistical reporting, the latest of which was published this week. The lack of published data on prison deaths is expected to complicate efforts at accountability and reform.