U.S. Dept. of Justice investigating conditions at Tutwiler Women - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

U.S. Dept. of Justice investigating conditions at Tutwiler Women's Prison

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

The Alabama Department of Corrections late Wednesday afternoon confirmed that the U.S. Department of Justice is conducting its own investigation into conditions at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women located in Wetumpka.

ALDOC spokesman Brian Corbett confirmed that the department was given written notice of the investigation from the DOJ on March 4, 2013 pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act.

Tutwiler became a center of controversy following a scathing report issued by the Equal Justice Initiative, detailing evidence of "frequent and severe" officer-on-inmate sexual violence in 2012.

In January, Department Commissioner Kim Thomas announced implementation of a formal Action Plan to improve operations at Tutwiler.  The Action Plan is based on a Technical Assistance Report provided by the DOJ's National Institute of Corrections. 

In June, 2012, Thomas invited the NIC to conduct an on-site assessment of facility operations at Tutwiler and to make recommendations to improve cross-gender supervision.  Prior to receiving the NIC's final Technical Assistance Report in November, the ADOC began addressing and implementing 58 specific opportunities as identified by the NIC.  

"In my opinion, custodial sexual misconduct is the single most egregious abuse of power, and we absolutely will not tolerate this type of behavior wherever it may exist," Thomas said.  "As part of our efforts to improve conditions at Tutwiler, I asked for an outside, independent review of the facility.  We have received that review, we are putting positive reforms in place, and those reforms will continue." 

"The Department is cooperating fully with the Department of Justice and the honorable George L. Beck Jr., United States Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama," Thomas said.  "It is the Department's sincere desire to resolve this matter." 

Tutwiler Prison is a maximum security facility that houses Alabama's female death row inmates. 

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