Tutwiler inmate speaks out about abuse

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala (WIAT) – Just days ago a Department of Justice report came out detailing atrocities at Tutwiler Prison. CBS 42 sat down with a former inmate who witnessed it all first hand.

“You know you have your good days and your bad days,” says Pam Williams of Tutwiler Prison. It’s a place she knows well. A former drug addict, she has done four multiple year stints in prison since 1997, three of them were at the wetumpka facility.

“The terrible experiences are when you actually see the officers are actually attacking inmates,” claims Williams. “Or sexually abusing them. And you’re told you better not say nothing or you’re in trouble. Or you can be in segregation next.”

After a nearly two-year investigation, Governor Robert Bently admitted there is quote  “A history of unabated staff-on-prisoner sexual abuse and harrassment.”  he goes on to say “Officials have been on notice for over eighteen-years of the risks to women prisoners and, for over eighteen years, have chosen to ignore them.”

Williams says this validation of the abuse she experienced off and on for sixteen years, is a weight lifted off her shoulders.

“The women have cried out for so much and prayed for so much to get help,” claims Williams. “Or for someone to just listen and believe them, what they’re saying.”

The State Department of Corrections says a plan to remedy these abuses is already in the works. Williams says that is a start but that open lines of communication would be more effective. She claims many inmates felt trapped, that their stories couldn’t get out to the people who would or could protect them.

“Because when we write the commissioner or the Southern Center for Human Rights, a lot of our letters, mail does not get out its pulled.”

And Williams says trying to file a complaint against offending officers was really asking for trouble.

“The officers cover for each other,” claims Williams. “And we’re the one that’s taking all the abuse. And nothings being done about it. And they’re not believing us and more women would speak out more if they would just believe it. And instead they just turn around and write us up for making false accusations on a DOC officer. That keeps someone shut up especially if you’re coming up for parole.”

In response to the report, DOC Commissioner Kim Thomas says “We have never down played the significant and serious nature of these allegations.  I do not, however, agree that Tutwiler is operating in a deliberately indifferent or unconstitutional manner.”

However as someone who lived in the meele for nearly two decades, Williams disagrees. Especially when asked how rampant this abuse was.

“I would say almost on an everyday situation. There is something that is happening and going on.”

Copyright 2014 WIAT CBS42

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