Triple murder suspect bringing shank to Marshall Co. Jail from prison raises concerns about system

Lawmakers are saying the incident with Jimmy Spencer transporting a shank from inside state prison is just another example of the serious problems within Alabama's prison system.

Posted: Jun 10, 2021 6:30 PM
Updated: Jun 10, 2021 6:30 PM

This week, triple murder suspect Jimmy Spencer managed to bring a shank from the state prison in Montgomery to the Marshall County Jail.

That means he had a shank for the entire three-hour car ride with the sheriff's office, and who knows how long he had it while inside the state prison.

Now, lawmakers are saying this is just another example of the serious problems within Alabama's prison system.

"It's certainly a concern, when you hear news like that you wonder about the safety of the inmates," says Sen. Arthur Orr.

The Department of Justice is also concerned with the safety of inmates in the state of Alabama, suing the Alabama Department of Corrections over civil rights violations.

"That's what the Justice Department is saying. That these people, it's inhuman treatment, it's a violation of the eighth amendment, cruel and unusual punishment," explains attorney Mark McDaniel.

The lawsuit includes data regarding murders, assaults, and over crowded prisons. The overcrowding is what many lawmakers point to as the root cause of violence.

"And that's the reason we need to get on with building new prisons that help in our state prison situation and modernize these prisons through new construction. And uh, we're working on it," says Senator Orr.

If the state can't come up with a solution, a federal judge could rule for the Justice Department to take control of Alabama's prison system.

"Obviously we've got some issues in the prison system that we've got to address. Not only, not only the facilities and complying with the federal court order. We certainly don't want the court system to take it over, but that's just an example of some serious problems in the prison system," says House Representative Randall Shedd.

The problem is the state doesn't have enough money to build more prisons, even though they're already spending 25% of Alabama's general fund on prison systems.

"Alabama is saying we're doing the best we can, and we're trying to make upgrades, we're trying to do things. But if the Justice Department, if a federal judge were to say you got to do it, you got to do it now. You know, we're spending an awful lot of money in the state of Alabama just to keep people locked up," says McDaniel.

WAAY31 tried to get some answers from the Alabama Department of Corrections regarding this string of violence in the prison system. We are still waiting on a response.

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