Brian Wanner, 47, died on February 4, two days after suffering an assault at Bullock Correctional Facility near Union Springs, Alabama.
EJI received multiple reports that Mr. Wanner had been beaten severely in one of the dormitories at Bullock and, due to the lack of officers inside the prison, there was a delay before officers responded to his collapse.
The Alabama Department of Corrections released limited information about Mr. Wanner’s death, telling reporters that he was transported to a hospital on February 2 for his injuries. He was returned to Bullock, where he collapsed and correctional staff “discovered Wanner unresponsive.”
Mr. Wanner had less than nine months left of a 78-month sentence and was eligible to be released with an ankle monitor at the time of his death.
Mr. Wanner is at least the 21st person killed in Alabama’s prisons in the past 14 months, and the second known homicide in 2023.
On January 4, Ariene Kimbrough was killed at Limestone Correctional Facility, less than three months before he would have become eligible for release.
Deaths in Alabama prisons are at an all-time high—266 people died in Alabama’s prisons last year. More than one in five of deaths was due to homicide, suicide, or drug overdose.
Despite the crisis, state officials have not announced any plans to reduce deaths in custody. At the same time, additional barriers have been placed to reduce the number of people being released, regardless of their status or risk to public safety.
These include dramatic reductions in the number of people granted parole. Data published by the Bureau of Pardons and Paroles show that Alabama’s parole rate has dropped by half in the past two years following years of steady decline.
In 2022, the bureau denied parole to 92% (1,709 of 1,853) of people eligible for parole. In more than two-thirds of cases, the parole board’s decision went against its own guidelines for parole, which were adopted in July 2020.