Death after death at Walker County, the worst jail in Alabama

by James Shedd

A new sheriff has taken over the Walker County Jail since these statements were made. On Jan. 18, 2019, two days after he took office, Sheriff Nick Smith ordered a “sweep” by guards and local police with dogs of the entire jail, “indicating that he will not tolerate inmates defacing the jail with graffiti,” according to the local paper, the Daily Mountain Eagle. This is the trusties’ section, which was praised by Smith for being relatively “clean” of graffiti. – Photo: Ed Howell, Daily Mountain Eagle

Prisoner abuse and neglect, murders, deaths, suicides, disease, torture, assaults, lack of medical and mental health care, ADA and PREA violations, corrupt officers, extreme overcrowding and a toxic and hazardous environment – please help us and print these deaths in the Bay View. We need media exposure on Walker County!

Editor’s note: Topped by that note, James Shedd sent a thick packet of news clippings and affidavits by his fellow prisoners telling the story of the Walker County Jail in Jasper, Alabama. News headlines include “34-year-old female dies in the Walker County Jail – four deaths have been reported this year,” “Inmate dies in county jail,” “County inmate who died in jail identified,” “County inmate dies at WBMC,” “12 inmates escape county jail,” “Commissioner looks at jail’s hot water system,” “JPD (Jasper PD) jailer arrested for sexually abusing inmates” and “Dangerous US  city list has Jasper in top 30,” augmented by Shedd’s comment, “Inmates get a shower every 7-10 days. The showers are covered with a toxic ‘black mold’; and the sewage is backed up in the drains.” The affidavits follow:

Murder of an inmate at the Walker County Jail in Jasper, Alabama

by James W. Shedd, 312886, Aug. 23, 2018

When I was put in the Walker County Jail in November of 2014, I was beaten by the guards as well as other inmates; it was because of what I was arrested for. The guards ALSO threw my food on the floor and told me there’s nothing I could do or say – and if I did say anything, they would come in the cell and beat me down.

While I was in M16 cell, I saw a guard beat an inmate unconscious and drag him out of M9 or M10 cell and out of the dorm. Then, about an hour or two later they drag the man back in his cell, then come to my cell. But I had already jumped back in my bunk and acted like I was asleep.

The guards left out of the dorm and came back about 30 minutes later and said the guy had hanged himself, which is NOT TRUE! The man was beaten to death by those two guards, and they know it! I will take a lie detector test to prove what I’m saying is 100 percent true.

He was not the only inmate to be killed by the guards. The one that was thrown off the top deck was done by the same guards and they need to be INVESTIGATED FOR THE MURDER of THESE INMATES and I will be willing to speak with an investigator about these serious matters.

Suicides at the Walker County Jail – No mental health treatment

by Lionel Scurry, 270368, Aug. 8, 2018

Many inmates have committed suicide at the Walker County Jail in the past few years – with jail officers trying to cover them up and rule them as deaths by natural causes. There is no screening or mental health evaluation for inmates booked into the jail. There isn’t any therapist available or counselors to talk to when one feels suicidal, and there is no suicide watch or a psychiatrist who can prescribe medication for the mentally ill.

Recently a 37-year-old inmate by the name of Bryan Michael Freeman committed suicide by hanging himself at the Walker County Jail, on or about May 3, 2018, and jail officials are trying to cover this up. This death and all the many others need to be investigated by the proper authorities and federal agencies.

Deaths from heroin withdrawal in the Walker County Jail

by William Basham, 153123, Sept. 9, 2018

I was being held in the Walker County Jail, where I was working as a trusty. On or about June of 2016 a man that had been arrested was brought into booking and was telling the officers very plainly that he was a hardcore heroin user and addict. This man was assigned to the trusty dorm where I was and for three days he was in agony, throwing up and having serious convulsions.

He was in desperate need of medical attention, but the Walker County Jail administration did nothing to help him. There isn’t any medical or drug treatment at the jail. On the fourth day after we trusties had told the staff several times of his health, they took this man to a holding cell where he died.

This man died a slow and painful death from withdrawals and was given nothing to help him. I can give names of witnesses and I am willing to talk to an investigator and give more detailed information.

Assaults, deaths and lack of security at Walker County Jail

by Eric Gurganus, 295335, July 16, 2018

Inmate Terry Martin was brutally assaulted at the first part of 2018 by a gang of inmates at the Walker County Jail in Jasper, Alabama. Mr. Martin’s head was bashed in and he had to be transported to a Birmingham hospital in a medi-vac helicopter. All of this happened due to a lack of security and a shortage of officers in an extremely overcrowded jail.

Another inmate by the name of Eddi Gann was found dead at the Walker County Jail. Eddie was a very healthy man and he wasn’t depressed or suicidal, so this was a very suspicious death. There have been many assaults and deaths at this jail that need to be investigated by an outside source.

Abuse of inmates and toxic indoor conditions at the Walker County Jail

by James W. Shedd, 312886, Aug. 23, 2018

I was in the Walker County Jail in February of 2018. When I was in the jail, they put me in the drunk tank NAKED on “Suicide” Watch for three days. I was not going to kill myself or do anything to the guards. I was finally taken and given clothes and then put in WIO cell, where I had no blanket or mat to sleep on for three weeks until DeJesus, a guard, gave me a piece of a blanket and a mat that was all in pieces to sleep in.

While I was in the jail, the toilets and sinks in the cells would not work, plus they were covered in black MOLD as well the walls. I have lung problems and started having problems breathing, I told the guards; they just overlooked it. ALSO, the showers are covered in black mold, which caused me to have skin rashes and my feet were eaten up by the mold as well as my legs and all over my body.

There was also rats, roaches, spiders and ants all in the dorm, and guards told us to just live with it, that we do not have any rights. The black mold was so bad that Ms. Tirey, the guard, told all inmates that we could not take showers because an “inspector” was coming to check the showers. They had the trusties to come in and clean the showers with a DEADLY caustic acid, which almost put me down because of my lung problems.

They took me and some of the other inmates to the outside holding cell until they got done, and it was freezing cold outside, but the guards did not care; they was just trying to cover up the problems in the jail. The guy that works on the plumbing and water was scared to work on anything in the dorms from the locks on the doors not working or the doors themselves not closing.

The plumbing was very bad and always backing up and putting raw sewage in the cells top and bottom. The inmates would have to clean up the mess without any kind of gloves or mask. When I was taken to Kilby, they went over us with a fine tooth comb; and it’s on record at Kilby where my feet and skin was being eaten off by the black MOLD and other dangerous toxic chemicals we were exposed to while at the Walker County Jail. THESE MATTERS OF INMATE ABUSE NEED TO BE INVESTIGATED.

Violations of EPA indoor air quality and Health Department standards

by Charles D. Cherry, 225344, July 12, 2018

The Walker County Jail was built 20 years ago on top of the old Jasper City Landfill or toxic waste dump. For years now the foundation of the jail has been cracking and deteriorating to the point it floods the lower cell blocks when it rains, which is compounded by the roof leaking.

The jail has extreme sewage problems on a daily basis and when the lower cells flood it mixes with the sewage and because of the severe overcrowding many inmates have to walk through the contaminated flood water barefoot and in shower slides. All of this causes a stinking black mold which is also in the showers.

It’s on record at Kilby where my feet and skin was being eaten off by the black MOLD and other dangerous toxic chemicals we were exposed to while at the Walker County Jail.

This jail is also infested with rats, roaches and spiders. Many inmates have respiratory problems and staph infections. The Health Department and Environmental Protection Agency, Indoor Air Quality Division, needs to investigate this toxic and deadly situation.

To learn more or contact the jail, go to www.walkercountysheriff.com or write to Walker County Jail, 2001 2nd Ave., Jasper, AL 35501.

Black mold in the kitchen and showers of the Walker County Jail

by Jason B. Wilson, 306920, Oct. 26, 2018

I was in the Walker County Jail in Jasper, Alabama, from January through May of 2018, and I worked in the kitchen from February through March of 2018. This is where I witnessed maintenance try to and cover up the black mold in the kitchen freezer with black mats like the ones used as bed liners in pickup trucks. They did this to try and hide the black mold from the inspectors.

There is also black mold in the ventilation ducts in the kitchen and in the other parts of the jail, which is causing some inmates respiratory problems. The food storage room at Walker County Jail is infected with cockroaches, which are always in the food in the dry storage area.

The showers are covered in black mold and, instead of trying to get rid of it somehow or another, maintenance paints over it, because the inspectors come to inspect the jail. The white paint peels off in sheets after a few days or after the moisture gets to the paint. In the short term, we are still dealing with the black mold. It’s not healthy, and all of what I have described needs to be thoroughly investigated.

Black mold, sewage problems, staph and inhumane conditions

by David Woodruff, 213998, Sept. 28, 2018

During my incarceration in Walker County Jail, I witnessed black mold in the showers, toilets overflowing with feces for days before the repairman, “Junior,” the sheriff’s brother-in-law, would show up to fix them.

My main concern for writing this is about all the untreated staph infections. I saw inmates treating other inmates literally lancing one another open with shaving razors so they could squeeze the green golf ball-looking staph out of their bodies. Note that they had to shower in the same mold infested showers with the open staph wounds.

If there is anything you all could do to make these people upgrade their building, please do. The walls are also cracked because the foundation isn’t solid. The jail I’m writing you about isn’t fit for an animal. Please help.

Sexual corruption and slave labor for elected officials

by Travis Moore, 309752, June 3, 2018

It was common knowledge at the Walker County Jail that Officer Wendy Copeland, “The Boss Lady,” of Community Corrections was having sex with inmate Bradford Mitchell and several other inmates connected to the Walker County Jail.

The jail I’m writing you about isn’t fit for an animal. Please help.

Also, the jail administration checks out inmates on a daily basis for work details all over the county in what amounts to free or slave labor for elected officials in the Walker County districts as well as the City of Jasper, Alabama. These local government officials are evil and corrupt – they have been abusing their authority for decades.

This inhumane treatment of inmates and living conditions within the Walker County Jail needs to be investigated.

Violations of PREA laws at the Walker County Jail in Jasper, Alabama

by William Basham, 153123, Sept. 3, 2018

The Walker County Jail is in violation of almost all of the national PREA [Prison Rape Elimination Act] laws and standards, starting with extreme security issues in the dormitories. Almost every cell door is broken beyond repair and will not lock and all of the lights have been torn down so there’s nothing but bare wire hanging down and it’s pitch dark in the cells.

There is a shortage of guards and there aren’t any security cameras in the dangerous blind spots where sexual assaults are taking place. There’s no system in place to immediately report sexual assault and no protective measures to protect inmates from retaliation if they tried to report an assault to a guard.

The guards and staff are going to try and cover up any reports of sexual misconduct because they are a major part of the problem. All these matters need to be investigated.

Violations of religious liberty and other constitutional rights

by Eric Gurganus, 295335, July 4, 2018

No religious services are allowed at all at the Walker County Jail. Inmates cannot have in their possession a Bible, book or religious material of any kind as it is considered to be contraband. Also, the Walker County Jail is extremely overcrowded, with people having to sleep on the floor, and some of them have no mattress or blankets.

There’s many mentally disturbed and mentally ill inmates in this jail who are NOT getting any kind of treatment. Regular medical treatment and basic health care is almost non-existent. One would have to be nearly dead to get to see a doctor.

The cells at the Walker County Jail have no lights, and the cell doors will not lock. The toilets don’t work most of the time, and the smell of raw sewage is an everyday thing. The showers are filthy, and inmates aren’t allowed to shower but once or twice a week.

Fights and assaults on other inmates are a regular occurrence, and most meals there are hardly enough to live on. All of these matters need to be investigated before more inmates are found dead at the Walker County Jail.

Violations of PREA laws and other state and federal laws

by Dashiki Cherry, 194996, April 25, 2016

The Walker County Jail is the best example of the worst jail in the state of Alabama. The jail is in disrepair and falling apart as it is built on an old Jasper City landfill. The foundation is being undermined by rainwater.

Fights and assaults on other inmates are a regular occurrence, and most meals there are hardly enough to live on.

The cell door locks are all broken and the inmates cannot be secured in their cells, which do not have lights inside, just exposed electrical wires hanging down. The roofing contract for the Walker County Jail was a political pay-off.

Assaults, rapes, and deaths happen and are not being investigated. There are gross violations at this county jail that need to be corrected and an audit and investigation on the $27 million debt still owed on this 20-year-old dilapidated jail.

Plea deal coercion, toxic conditions, torture killing prisoners

by Mickel Odeal Hart, 00139505, May 23, 2018

I was held hostage in the Walker County Jail for three years and four months, which is standard practice in Jasper, Alabama, to leverage a plea bargain, confession or conviction. I spent nine months in 2005 in a hell-hole they called M-Dorm in 5-cell, which is solitary confinement.

There were no lights in my cell and at times it was pitch dark. Because of all this time spent in the dark and the sewage backed up in my cell, I have health problems, and I have lost some of my eyesight. We had no books, radios, TVs or programs, and the sewage would back up in the floors. We would get to shower about once a week, and the sewage was backed up in the showers as well.

Spiders were a serious problem in the jail, and when I was in M-Dorm I witnessed inmates put in a restraint chair by the officers and tortured by pouring ice water on them and throwing mattresses down on them from the upper tier. Sometimes they would be left in the restraint chair all day long.

In 2006, I witnessed an inmate by the name of David Dutton contract a very severe case of staph infection from spider bites and raw sewage, at which time he started to lose a lot of weight. The jail administration did nothing but give him Tylenol even though it became obvious he needed to be in the hospital.

They just hurried up and sent him to prison, where he soon died from his infections. This was a slow painful death due to pure neglect. Please investigate the Walker County Jail and the inhumane conditions.

Broken locks, sewage, black mold, spiders, medical neglect, censorship, brutality, no news, books or law library access

by Travis Moore, 309752, June 11, 2018

At the Walker County Jail. most cell doors are broken and there is no lights I most cells. There is a lot of sewage problems and black mold in the showers. We live in bug and spider infested dorms, where spider bites and staph infections are common.

It is almost impossible to get any kind of medical or dental treatment at the jail. I could never get any treatment for my stomach problems, cholesterol or kidney stones. I saw many inmates suffer from lack of medical and dental treatment.

We weren’t allowed any books, TVs, news or access to a law library. Our mail and legal visits were censored and I never saw anyone spray for bugs and we never had a fire drill or a fire evacuation plan.

I witnessed several gang beatings and I even saw them slam a cell door on an innocent and helpless man’s arm, and the man never received any medical treatment. These conditions along with the overcrowding and corruption by the jail officials need to be investigated.

Send our brother some love and light: James Shedd, 312886, Limestone CF B-Dorm, 28779 Nick Davis Rd, Harvest AL 35749. Apparently, these statements were gathered after these men were sentenced and moved from county jail to state prison.