Homicide at Bullock Latest in Alabama Prisons


The Alabama Department of Corrections confirmed that Lawrence Turner, 43, was stabbed to death last Tuesday at Bullock Correctional Facility in southeast Alabama. Mr. Turner had completed 22 years of a 30-year sentence for robbery.

Mr. Turner is at least the 12th person killed in Alabama’s prisons this year.  

No fewer than 76 people have been murdered while incarcerated in Alabama since 2016, when federal prosecutors began investigating violent and abusive conditions in the state’s prisons. 

Alabama has had more prison homicides in six years than most states have had over nearly two decades. 

Despite the continuing crisis, no significant changes have been implemented within state prisons to improve conditions or safety—even after the Justice Department sued the State for failing to address unconstitutional conditions in its prison system. 

Violence in Alabama’s prisons has instead increased dramatically since the Justice Department launched its investigation. 

Most men incarcerated in Alabama have little structure and spend most of their time idle in housing units. 

Because of severe understaffing, there is often no officer presence in the housing units and basic security functions, like searching for contraband and controlling movement in the facility, have been all but abandoned. 

The dangerous conditions are exacerbated by other poor management practices, including the practice of randomly assigning newly admitted people to the first open beds at a facility without identifying risks, conflicts, programming needs, or other potential problems.

In 2017, a federal court ordered the Alabama Department of Corrections to significantly increase its staffing to ensure that critical posts impacting safety in the prisons are not left unfilled.

But staffing levels—which were already insufficient—instead have fallen further at many prisons, including Bullock, where security positions went from 45% filled in 2016 to 33% in 2021.