Guards at the Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama, staged a work strike for the first time in the history of the Alabama Department Of Corrections, according to the Free Alabama Movement (FAM).
In an audio message published by the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, prisoner Kinetik Justice Amun said that on Sept 24 at 6:00, virtually no officers reported to work. He said only the deputy commissioner, wardens, some captains and a few other staff came. Kinetik said the commissioner was passing out food trays and the warden was pushing the cart.
“I can’t believe this,” Kinetik says on the recording. “They completely bugged on the administration. No more will they be pawns in the game.”
“Assistant Commissioner Grantt Culliver was dispatched to the prison, where he then had to order supervisors from another prison, Atmore CF, to report to Holman prison just to be able to serve meals,” FAM added in a press statement.
“The officers at Holman, who have been defying ADOC policy and speaking publicly to the media, had communicated their plans to FAM members, and expressed their support for nonviolent and peaceful demonstrations against the human rights conditions existent at Holman,” FAM declared.
They acknowledged officers have complained of the overcrowding and “the need for a mass release, more education and rehabilitation programs, as well as issues with disease and filth. Officers reserved their harshest criticism for the commissioner’s officer and what they perceive as a lack of leadership from Commissioner Jefferson Dunno and Culliver.
Holman is home to some of the original organizers of the national coordinated prisoner labor strike, which began on September 9. Prisoners organized as the Free Alabama Movement have worked for around three years to draw attention to abhorrent living conditions, abuse by guards, and slave labor practices by the state of Alabama.
The prison is overcrowded and understaffed and has seen multiple “disturbances” over the past year, including two back-to-back uprisings in March. Prison guards allege inmates stabbed the warden and an officer as they gained control of a dormitory, which they held for several hours.
An officer died on September 16 after being stabbed by an inmate on September 1. The inmate reportedly assaulted the officer after being denied an extra tray of food.
“The inmates are getting bolder and bolder about knives, carrying them around. We will tell the administration, and the administration doesn’t want to do anything about it,” a corrections officer told News 5 WKRG.
The officer claimed the administration doesn’t care about what happens to them, and that this was not an isolated incident. He faults prison leadership for ignoring contraband and putting less of a priority on seizing it and claims the inmates have more rights than the officers do.
The Alabama Department of Corrections said it is “taking steps to help mitigate inmate violence by fully manning the department’s Intelligence and Investigations Division, increasing facility security inspections, and prosecuting offenders to the fullest extent of the law.” It has also proposed “the Alabama Prison Transformation Initiative,” to address the “chronic issues of overcrowding, understaffing and outdated facilities, which will lead to safer prisons and increase public safety.”
The September 9 uprising at Holman lasted only one day, but a second uprising reportedly took place last week. Prisoners housed in the facility’s C Dorm repelled guards in riot gear, who attempted to seize a cell phone from a prisoner.