Alabama attorney general takes over prison litigation

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Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall is taking control of prison litigation away from the Department of Corrections and moving it to his office in their latest public disagreement.

Marshall informed the department that the attorney general intends to remove the assistant attorney general status of the department’s six attorneys, the Alabama Department of Corrections said Thursday in an emailed statement.

‘We will not speculate about the impact the AG’s decision will have on the ADOC, but I am confident in the ability of our Legal Division to protect the interests of this department throughout this transition. We will continue to focus on the critical mission of the ADOC — to provide public safety through the secure confinement, rehabilitation, and reentry of offenders,’ Alabama Corrections Commissioner John Hamm said in a statement Thursday.

A spokesperson for Marshall did not immediately return an email seeking comment about the reasons for the change. The governor’s office directed questions to the prison system.

The prison system is in the midst of high-stakes litigation that is pricey and carries potential long-term ramifications for the direction of the state’s prison system. The Department of Justice has sued the state, alleging that male prisoners are housed in violent prisons that violate the constitutional prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. A federal judge has also ordered the state to increase prison staff in an ongoing lawsuit over prison health care.

Marshall has had prior disagreements with the prison system. Earlier this year, he sued the ADOC and the Board of Pardons and Paroles to try to block the release of inmates to supervised release, arguing that victims’ families had not been properly notified.

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