A week after EJI reported widespread sexual abuse of women prisoners by male guards at Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Alabama, editorial boards and state and federal officials are calling for investigation into abuses at Tutwiler.
Newspapers and broadcast news outlets across Alabama and nationwide have reported on EJI’s findings, including that several incarcerated women have become pregnant after being raped by prison guards.
Editorials and op-eds in the Mobile Press-Register, Birmingham News, Times Daily (Florence), and Wetumpka Herald this week condemned the Alabama Department of Corrections’ failure to adequately protect prisoners from sexual violence by Tutwiler employees.
Observing that incarcerated people “deserve fair and humane treatment as they serve their sentences,” the Press-Register wrote that “sexual misconduct and sexual abuse not be tolerated in any prison” and called on Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange to launch an immediate investigation. Out of respect for the reforms championed by the prison’s namesake, Julia S. Tutwiler, The Birmingham News wrote, “The state must demand better, Corrections must demand better, and the attorney general must demand better, with or without federal prodding.”
The Department of Justice is now investigating the allegations. In response to EJI’s report, Alabama Prisons Commissioner Kim Thomas said he wants to do things to make prisons safer. “I’m going to look at a variety of things to make sure our policy is being carried out, and see if there’s a way to improve the process, environment or climate,” Thomas said.