Monday, September 10, 2012

Chief Deputy Agrees: Deplorable Conditions

Inmate families protest conditions at Jefferson County Jail

Published: Monday, September 10, 2012, 1:23 PM Updated: Monday, September 10, 2012, 1:23 PM

By Carol Robinson -- The Birmingham News

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Family members of several Jefferson County Jail inmates protested outside the downtown facility today, saying the food and conditions are atrocious.

Five people held signs outside the Mel Bailey Criminal Justice Center and talked to news reporters and photographers, who outnumbered the protesters. Bridget Gober of Gardendale said her 18-year-old daughter has been jailed on drug charges since July 27, and has been in the same jail uniform since she was incarcerated. A judge has denied her bond and drug court, according to her mother.

Gober said her daughter suffered withdrawals because she wasn't given her prescription Xanax, and no jail staff helped her. The food, Gober said, isn't fit to eat. The protesters said a typical breakfast might include a piece of toast, a hard-boiled egg and a spoonful of grits.

"It's not supposed to be a country club, but give them adequate food," she said. "I expect for them to be treated like a human."

Jefferson County sheriff's Chief Deputy Randy Christian said the jail has averaged 500 inmates over capacity since the county jail in the Bessemer Cutoff closed in 2009.

"The deplorable conditions at the Birmingham jail are well-documented," Christian said. "A jail shouldn't be a cake walk, but there are standards that must be met or you end up in federal court with a judge issuing compliance orders. The conditions for our deputies and civilian personnel is very concerning."

"We have been protesting this for a couple of years ourselves," Christian said. "It's about time someone else joined in."


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