Riots likely after ruling

Published 1:33 pm Monday, July 15, 2002

By By Robbie Byrd, News Editor
"I don't have a crystal ball, and I can't tell the future, but I just about guarantee you that you're going to have a major prison riot," said Mac McArthur, executive director of the Alabama State Employees Association.
A report from The Birmingham News last week warns that Atmore could become the site of prison riots after a judge ordered state officials to move inmates from county jails and into the state corrections system.
The state prison system is facing a fine of up to $2.16 million, issued on June 14 by Circuit Judge William Shashy of Montgomery, for failure to remove state convicts from Alabama county jails.
Not only that, but Shashy ruled that both the fines must be paid and the inmates moved with 90 days from his ruling, otherwise he would have Prison Commissioner Mike Haley join the inmates behind bars.
The judge ruled the DOC has until August 14 to move 1,850 inmates away from county jails and into various facilities throughout the state.
This, the report says, is where the problem lies. Newly appointed warden of Holman prison Grant Culliver said carrying out the order could be dangerous for everyone.
"It's more than just the correctional officers at risk, it's the public that's at risk," said Culliver. "We're full. There is no more room."
McArthur added: "It's just ripe for a riot."
Last week, several other wardens, prison employees and officials staged a protest rally at the State House in Montgomery.
However, the protest was not enough to stop the judge from slamming down his ruling, along with skittish response from the governor's office.
Gov. Don Siegelman's camp is unsure if the governor's administration will appeal the ruling. However, Siegelman did say his administration has been working "as hard as possible to fix this decades-old problem."
Annie Latimore, Alabama State Corrections Association President asked the governor to find money for her department as the state had for Honda, Hyundai and Mercedes Benz.
"We want Siegelman to make a bold move and maybe pull the Legislature back into session and address the situation," Latimore said. "If they can give these auto manufacturers money to bring jobs in, then what about all the jobs that are already here?"

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