Kenneth Ray, 32, was stabbed to death Monday at William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility near Birmingham, Alabama.
According to reports received by EJI, Mr. Ray was stabbed multiple times while locked in a housing dormitory at Donaldson with no officer present. He died before any officers arrived to investigate calls for help made by other men in the dormitory.
The killing of Mr. Ray occurred while representatives from the Department of Justice were inside the prison assessing conditions. The tour was part of the Justice Department’s lawsuit filed in December 2020 against Alabama and the Alabama Department of Corrections for their failure to protect incarcerated people from violence.
Mr. Ray is at least the 18th person killed in Alabama’s prisons this year. Eight men have been killed at Donaldson:
- Barry Gardner, 33, on February 22
- Victor Russo, 60, on February 24
- William Jennings, 49, on March 2
- Mitchell Cosby, 41, on June 15
- David Sloan, 45, on July 17
- Denarieya Smith, 30, on October 1
- Joseph Agee, 29, on October 3
In an April 2019 report, the Justice Department notified Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Corrections that their failure to provide safe conditions in the state’s prisons violated the constitutional rights of incarcerated people.
Federal prosecutors identified numerous factors contributing to these unsafe conditions, including severe understaffing, ineffective housing and classification protocols, and lack of control of contraband. They also described steps needed to remedy the constitutional violations.
Despite this, ADOC has announced no significant response to the issues and problems identified by the Justice Department. At least 53 homicides have been recorded in the state’s prisons since April 2019.
With 18 homicides so far in 2022, Alabama’s current prison homicide rate of 90.1 homicides per 100,000 people is 30% higher than in 2020, when 12 people were killed in the state’s prisons and the homicide rate was 68.7 per 100,000.
State leaders have said very little about the recent surge in homicides at Donaldson and other Alabama prisons. To date, 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.