Another Alabama Prison Homicide at Donaldson Correctional Facility


Deandre Roney, 39, was stabbed to death at Donaldson Correctional Facility in Bessemer, Alabama, on Saturday afternoon. Mr. Roney was classified as minimum custody and was 18 months away from completing a 20-year sentence.

For years Alabama’s prisons have been among the deadliest in the country, with a homicide rate far above the national average and dozens of people dying from suicides and drug overdoses every year.

Yet the deaths are only part of the story, as each year hundreds more people are stabbed and suffer life-threatening injuries while in prison. The Alabama Department of Corrections reports that 1,895 people were injured in 1,530 assaults in its 16 main facilities last year—45% more than the previous year.

In many cases, incarcerated people and their families report that ADOC staff were indifferent to their safety concerns before near-fatal assaults and indifferent to their care following their injuries.

Lawsuits filed on behalf of Alabama prisoners are replete with allegations that prison officials failed to protect the people in their custody. Amir Davis alleged in a federal lawsuit that when he was stabbed six times in the neck by another man in his housing unit at Donaldson last year, there was no supervision in the unit and no officer came to his aid. Mr. Davis was reportedly carried by other incarcerated people to the infirmary and taken to the hospital with a spinal cord injury.

Similarly, Albert Trejo alleged in court filings that he begged officers in September 2021 to place him in a single-man cell at Fountain Correctional Facility for protection after gang members threatened to kill him. Officers instead put him in a two-person cell, where he was stabbed 24 times.

A federal judge ruled in 2023 that a lawsuit filed by a person who was raped at knifepoint while incarcerated at Ventress Correctional Facility should proceed. “If true,” the court wrote, “the allegations in this case tell a horrific story about excessively dangerous conditions in another Alabama state prison—and the failures of authorities to fix them.” The court added:

This case does not come to the court in isolation. In the past year, several courts have found viable allegations of unconstitutionally violent conditions of confinement throughout the Alabama prison system. The common themes in these cases are easily detected: understaffing, overcrowding, proliferation of contraband weapons, and abject failures to monitor and supervise inmates—all of which have allegedly led to the highest rates of inmate-on-inmate violence in the country.

Dozens of officers in Alabama prisons, including high ranking officers and wardens, have been charged with violence against prisoners or covering up crimes by other staff. These include Donaldson lieutenant Mohammad Jenkins, who was sentenced to 87 months in prison for assaulting Victor Russo while he was restrained and unresisting and then writing a false incident report and lying to investigators.

Officers at Donaldson were also criminally charged after investigations into the deaths of Tommy Rutledge, who died in a solitary confinement cell where the temperature exceeded 100 degrees, and Jason Kirkland, who died of “mechanical asphyxia” when he became stuck in his cell door and officers allegedly did not render aid.

The past three head wardens at Limestone Correctional Facility, Alabama’s largest prison, have been terminated or retired after facing allegations of misconduct.