Alabama prison sex for favors investigated

Tutwiler Prison For Women

The Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Alabama is old and infamous. It was originally built to hold 400 women in 1942, the prison now holds close to 900.  Prisons this old and crowded are full of problems, but the biggest problem is the sex trade within the prison population. It’s not just sex with other female prisoners but prisoners having sex with the guards. The US Justice Department has opened an investigation on the prison covering an 18-year period.

The atmosphere at the prison was one of oppression and rape with prisoners having little option other than to submit. One inmate Monica Washington submitted to guard Rodney Arbuthnot and later gave birth to his child.  Arbuthnot was arrested and served 6 months for custodial misconduct and is being forced to pay child support for the infant of $230 a month. Rape by guards according to many of the inmates is a common practice. It is a way to get favors and basic needs such as toilet paper, perfume, shampoo and tampons for the prisoners. The situation was so bad that Guards reportedly videotaped female prisoners in the showers and even organized a strip show.  Jocelyn Samuels, the acting assistant attorney general for civil rights for the Justice Department, sent a 36-page report to the Governor of Alabama, which detailed the problems in the prison system. In an interview, Samuels stated, “We think that there is a very strong case of constitutional violations here. The toxic, highly sexualized environment has been met by a deliberate indifference on the part of prison officials and prison management, who have been aware of the conditions for many years and have failed to curb it.”

Alabama rate of incarceration of state inmates for non-violent drug and property crimes are among the highest in the country. However, the question is how serious the state of Alabama is about correcting the issues not only at Tutwiler but also at other prisons across the state. The Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections requested an increase of $42 million over last year’s budget. The state of Alabama responded by cutting the prisons budget by an additional $7 million from the previous year’s budget.  Clearly Alabama politicians do not feel that the prison system is worthy of improvement.

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