Two Homicides Reported in Alabama Prisons


Cedric Watts, 33, was stabbed to death yesterday at Donaldson Correctional Facility in Bessemer, Alabama. His death comes just two weeks after Louis Christopher Latham, 40, was killed at Ventress Correctional Facility in Barbour County, Alabama.

Christopher Latham arrived at Ventress Facility less than a month ago, after he reportedly suffered an assault at Staton Correctional Facility in Elmore, Alabama. During that attack, Mr. Latham was beaten and struck in the face with a weight, lacerating his eye.

When he arrived at Ventress, APR reports, Mr. Latham was assaulted by multiple prisoners. Although he was airlifted to an outside hospital, he died of a traumatic brain injury.

At least 12 people have been killed while in the custody of Alabama’s state prisons so far this year.

Alabama’s prison homicide rate is likely even higher.

In the past year, the Alabama Department of Corrections stopped publishing information on deaths in its monthly statistical reports and stopped answering questions from members of the media about deaths in custody.

Alabama’s prisons have become increasingly deadly over the past decade. The homicide rate in the state’s prisons vastly exceeds that of other states.

According to data from the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, the proportion of prison homicides nationwide that occurred in Alabama prisons doubled between 2014 and 2019.

In 2019 alone, Alabama’s prisons housed just 1.5% of the nation’s prison population, but more than one in nine state prison homicides across the country happened in Alabama. Alabama’s homicide rate was seven times the national average.

Conditions in the state’s prisons have gotten even worse since then.

In 2022, 274 people died in Alabama’s prisons—the most in the state’s history.

Nearly a third of those deaths (86 out of 274 or 31%) were due to homicide, suicide, or overdose, according to ADOC’s quarterly reports.

The 2022 prison homicide rate rose by 33% since 2019—but that number is likely an undercount. More than a year later, ADOC still has not reported the cause of death for many of the people who died in custody in 2022.