Three men were killed in Alabama’s prisons within 36 hours this week.
EJI received multiple reports that Jamal McCain, 37, was stabbed to death overnight Monday in a cell at St. Clair Correctional Facility near Springville, Alabama. The Alabama Department of Corrections subsequently confirmed that it opened a homicide investigation after Mr. McCain was found dead in his cell.
Mr. McCain had been in prison since he was 18 and was scheduled to complete his sentence in two years, in June 2025.
On Tuesday, EJI received multiple reports about a stabbing death at Elmore Correctional Facility. ADOC subsequently confirmed that Stephone Marshall, 38, was killed in an assault in a dormitory at the prison that day.
EJI also received reports that Colton Hall, 32, was killed at Easterling Prison on Tuesday. The homicide was subsequently confirmed by ADOC. Mr. Hall had survived a previous stabbing at the same prison in May 2021 that resulted in an emergency hospitalization.
These three homicides are the latest of at least 61 people who have been murdered in Alabama prisons since the U.S. Department of Justice informed Alabama officials in April 2019 that the state’s prison system “routinely violates the constitutional rights of prisoners” by failing to protect them from rampant violence and sexual abuse.
Mr. Hall’s death is the 90th homicide since the Justice Department initiated its investigation of Alabama’s prisons in October 2016.
Many of the reported homicides in Alabama’s prisons involved a stabbing or the use of a contraband knife or knife-like weapon. The inability to provide security within Alabama prisons, along with high homicide and assault rates, has made an already violent situation worse, as many imprisoned people feel the need to secure weapons.
ADOC reported it found 2,800 weapons in sweeps at seven prisons conducted in 2019. At approximately 312 weapons per 1,000 people, the prevalence of weapons in Alabama’s prisons is much higher than in other Southern states.
That same year, Louisiana reported it recovered 14 knives per 1,000 people in its prisons over the entire year, while Tennessee and Georgia recovered fewer than 80 per 1,000 people.
In 2022, ADOC’s quarterly reports listed 6,254 weapons found in 12 facilities housing approximately 15,900 people, for a rate of 394 weapons per 1,000 incarcerated people.