In 2012, a handcuffed and shackled inmate at Alabama’s St. Clair Correctional Facility was punched in the head, face and ear and stomped on by a corrections officer, charges a new federal lawsuit against the Alabama Department of Corrections, the Montgomery Advertiser reports. The suit says inmate Joseph Shack suffered from ruptured ears that lead to hearing loss, a fractured thumb, internal bleeding and fractured ribs. “This is what I do to a [N-word] that tries to tell me how to do my job,” the officer allegedly said at a disciplinary hearing. The Equal Justice Initiative, a Montgomery law firm, is filing a class-action lawsuit today on behalf of inmates it says are subject to dangerous conditions and high rates of violence.
The firm says poor leadership, frequent verbal and physical abuse by officers, overcrowding, chronic lapses in security, broken locks on most cell doors, and illegal drugs and contraband brought in by officers has contributed to a culture of violence at the prison. Initiative director Bryan Stevenson said there have been six homicides at St. Clair in the past three years. The most recent was in June, when Jodey Waldrop, 36, was stabbed to death in his prison cell by another inmate during lockdown hours. The facility also has some of the nation’s highest homicide rates. Federal data shows the average homicide rate in state prisons is 5.4 per 100,000 inmates. At St. Clair in 2012, that figure was 75.6, 77.7 in 2013 and 232.4 this year.