An effort by the state Attorney General’s office and the Department of Corrections to have a judge dismiss a Department of Justice lawsuit over conditions in Alabama prisons is likely a non-starter. One can’t blame ‘em for trying, even if it’s a futile effort.
“Trying” isn’t an attribute state officials have exercised much in dealing with state prisons. The DOCs lockups around the state are chronically overcrowded and understaffed, and have been for years, despite annual pleas from DOC officials to state legislatures for greater resources. Yet there’s been little “trying” by lawmakers to correct the deficiencies in the state prisons.
The Justice Department litigation is no surprise either. DOJ submitted a blistering report a year ago outlining the problems it identified in the state’s corrections system, giving fair notice that litigation would follow unless there was some indication of a plan to address prison woes.
The lawsuit was filed in December.
It’s doubtful that a federal judge would dismiss the case simply because the state challenges the DOJ’s rationale.
A better tack is for legislators to follow Gov. Ivey’s lead in pursuing an agreement to lease new prison facilities, and bolster that effort by creating a strategy to manage prison population and adequately staff penitentiaries.