UPDATE: Uprising at Holman Prison in Alabama

Two new stories; original story follows – to keep current, watch Free Alabama Movement on Facebook

List of demands from men incarcerated at Holman Prison in Alabama

by Raven Rakia

Two uprisings occurred at Holman Prison in Alabama over the past four days. One, starting on Friday night, involved fires being set after the warden was stabbed.

The second, on Monday morning, involved 70-100 men barricading themselves inside their dormitory. The men at Holman Prison have released a set of demands. Sent to me via video, the six demands are listed below:

  1. We inmates at Holman Prison ask for immediate federal assistance.
  2. We ask that the Alabama government release all inmates who have spent excessive time in Holman Prison – due to the conditions of the prison and the overcrowding of these prisons in Alabama.
  3. We ask that the 446 laws [Habitual Felony Offender laws] that Alabama holds as of 1975 be abolished.
  4. We ask that Parole Board release all inmates who fit the criteria to be back in society with their families.
  5. We ask that these prisons in Alabama implement proper classes that will prepare inmates to be released back into society with 21st century information that will prepare inmates to open and own their own businesses instead of making them having to beg for a job.
  6. We also ask for monetary damages for mental pain and physical abuse that inmates have already suffered.

For more information on Alabama’s Habitual Felony Offenders Law – their version of the three strike laws – read this quick explanation and then these two longer ones here and here [PDF].

For more information on Alabama’s parole process, and how people who are eligible for parole aren’t receiving it, read here.

This story originally appeared on Medium.com.

Alabama governor blames prisoner uprisings on ‘overcrowding and understaffing’

by George Lavender

Alabama-Department-of-Corrections-logo-behind-broken-glass-300x300, UPDATE: Uprising at Holman Prison in Alabama, Abolition Now!
A Facebook event page promoting Incarcerated Lives Matter Protest/Rally Holman Prison features this photo to announce a rally this Saturday, March 19, 9-11 a.m., at Holman Prison in Atmore, Ala.: “Calling ALL family members of the incarcerated. There will be a protest and rally at Holman Prison in response to Gov. Bentley and his administration’s refusal to address the issues raised by the men at Holman, i.e., overcrowding, barbaric treatment, lack of medical treatment, inadequacies of classifications and Parole Board.” A post on that page reports on a visit by Gov. Bentley. The men’s hopes were high that he would hear their pleas. But “when he walked into the prison, officers went into the dorms armed with shotguns and screamed, ‘Everyone face down on your rack and if you lift your head we’ll blow it off.’ The governor then had his picture taken and left the prison without talking to a single prisoner.

March 15 – Alabama’s governor blamed “a volatile mix of overcrowding and understaffing” for two prisoner uprisings at state facilities in the space of three days. Gov. Robert Bentley called for immediate action to “reduce overcrowding and provide facilities that are safer and more secure for both inmates and corrections officers.”

The William C. Holman Correctional Facility was placed on lockdown after prisoners stabbed the prison warden and a corrections officer and set fire to parts of a dormitory on Friday night. The prison was said to be under the control of corrections officers on Saturday, but on Monday morning prisoners again barricaded themselves in a dormitory. According to the AP, the dormitory was again under corrections control by the evening.

Videos from the uprising were apparently posted online along with statements from prisoners themselves, like this one posted on AL.com (and below).

It’s not the first time that Alabama prisoners and politicians have highlighted overcrowding and poor conditions inside Alabama’s prisons. About 24,000 prisoners are currently held in prisons designed for around 13,000.

The Prison Complex previously reported on the prisoner-led Free Alabama Movement as well as efforts by legislators to reform the state’s prison system.

Gov. Bentley advocates building three new men’s facilities and closing 13 of the state’s 15 prisons.

This story originally appeared on In These Times.


by Support Prisoner Resistance

Friday night, March 11, prisoners took over Holman Prison in Alabama. At around midnight a fight between inmates escalated to include guards and even the warden. Staff fled, and the rioting prisoners took over general population, lighting guard towers on fire and barricading the doors.

According to rumors, the incident began when an officer responded to a fight between two prisoners with excessive force and was stabbed in response. “Then they brought the warden down and the warden got to talking crazy so they ended up stabbing the warden, and then after that all the officers ran up out of the institution, that was like 12:00, 1:00 this morning.”

The warden and officer’s injuries were not fatal. There are videos circulating on social media of prisoners burning the control towers and opening all doors. “We’re tired of this shit, there’s only one way to deal with it: Tear the prison down!” one of the participants stated.

At around 2 a.m. the riot squad and police arrived. They said they were waiting on daylight to move and try to restore control of the facility. At this time, people haven’t heard from the occupied portion of the prison for a few hours, but it seems the authorities have not moved in either. Friends and family of prisoners in Holman are asking that people pray for their loved ones.

Holman’s capacity is 1,002 prisoners, but it also has a segregation unit and death row, which are still under the prison’s control. Prisoners in segregation had not received their breakfast meal four hours after it is normally distributed. General population at Holman consists of four open space dormitories, housing 114 people each, plus a 200 person annex, so there may be between 450 and 650 prisoners involved in the uprising.

Holman-Prison-rebellion-setting-fire-031116-by-prisoners-300x225, UPDATE: Uprising at Holman Prison in Alabama, Abolition Now!
Brutality and overcrowding pushed prisoners to the tipping point Friday night, when a guard responded to a simple fight by “swinging his stick and throwing inmates around … people get tired of seeing their fellow convicts get treated that way,” according to a witness speaking to WHNT News. “People are getting more and more aggravated every day when their rights are being taken away, even the rights we’re supposed to have as human beings.”

Alabama DOC has been increasingly unstable in recent months. Incidents of violence within the institutions have been stacking up. The federal government was on the verge of taking over the system due to poor management and budgetary shortfalls last year.

An article from January 2016 reports the Alabama Department of Corrections’ (ADOC’s) failure to operate safe and stable prisons.

Update and more direct perspective, from elsewhere in the prison

On Friday March 11, 2016, the powder keg erupted, as anticipated, at Alabama’s infamous Holman Prison, best known for housing Alabama’s Death Row and “Yellow Mama.” However, in recent years it has been the site of organized protest.

In 2007, all prisoners engaged in a hunger and work strike which brought about the condemnation of dormitories and remodeling of general population. 2011 saw a protest against inhumane treatment by officers.

In 2014, the Free Alabama Movement launched its coordinated protest at Holman. Now today, Alabama prison administrators are seeing the fruit of their labor.

On Friday night at 11:15 p.m., a simple fight between two prisoners escalated into an officer receiving stab wounds. The prisoners requested to see the warden and captain. Once Warden Davenport arrived, after being disrespectful and non-negotiable, another altercation broke out in which Davenport received stab wounds. At this time, all prison personnel vacated general population.

It appears that officials are back in certain parts of the prison, as death row and the seg annex were served breakfast at around 11:30 a.m. So there must have been some sense of calm. However, at around 12:45 p.m., several Response Team officers could be seen running through death row from the seg annex enroute to general population. So it appears that the unrest continues.

This story first appeared on Support Prisoner Resistance, which can be reached at prisonerresistance@gmail.com.

Prisoners talk to WHNT News

This is an excerpt from the story at http://whnt.com/2016/03/12/on-the-inside-inmates-talk-to-whnt-news-19-about-prison-riot/:

Sunday, corrections officers say they confiscated 30 cell phones, makeshift knives and other contraband. Before the phones were collected, WHNT News 19 spoke to an inmate inside the facility on Saturday.

“Expect it to get worse. Expect it to keep happening.”

Holman-Prison-rebellion-spokesperson-031116-by-prisoners, UPDATE: Uprising at Holman Prison in Alabama, Abolition Now!
Speaking to WHNT News, a prisoner said, “Expect it to get worse. Expect it to keep happening.”

Those chilling words were spoken by a man who identified himself over the phone as an inmate at Holman Correctional Facility Saturday. We found him in the inmate system and spoke to a relative who confirmed his identity. He spoke to us by cell phone.

A second inmate who wouldn’t identify himself but who was verified by the first inmate, tells us he witnessed the events. He says tempers flared when the very first officer got in the middle of an inmate fight.

“What [the officer] did was not professional. They teach them not to do what he did. He went in swinging his stick and throwing inmates around. You know, if you try being in prison for 20 years, people get tired of seeing their fellow convicts get treated that way.”

The first inmate we spoke to tells WHNT News 19 that the overcrowding caused the incident: “People are getting more and more aggravated every day when their rights are being taken away, even the rights we’re supposed to have as human beings.”

Both inmates say prison operations essentially stopped in the aftermath of the riot.

The first inmate, who is in the segregation unit away from the riot, told us: “They aren’t giving us food. They aren’t giving us medicine. They’re not giving us anything.”

Both say prison conditions push inmates to a tipping point.

According to the Alabama Department of Corrections, the inmates involved in the stabbing are being detained away from the general population. They say the prison will remain on lockdown for the next few days until the investigation is complete.