The Department of Justice settled a lawsuit to protect prisoners at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Alabama, from sexual victimization by correctional officers. The settlement resolves the Justice Department’s findings of sexual abuse and sexual harassment at Tutwiler.
In January 2014, the Justice Department issued a findings letter concluding that Tutwiler subjects its women prisoners to a pattern and practice of sexual abuse in violation the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The findings identified several systemic failures that led to the pattern of abuse, including ineffective reporting and investigations and no grievance policy.
The agreement comprehensively addresses the causes of the abuses uncovered by the department’s investigation. It draws upon sex-responsive, trauma-informed principles to build on the Prison Rape Elimination Act National Standards, which are designed to prevent, detect and respond to custodial sexual abuse and sexual harassment throughout our nation’s prisons and jails. The agreement tailors the more generalized national standards to target the specific problems revealed at Tutwiler and to meaningfully address the harm to Tutwiler’s women prisoners.
The agreement requires Tutwiler to protect women from sexual abuse and sexual harassment by ensuring sufficient staff to safely operate Tutwiler and supervise prisoners, supplemented by a state-of-the-art camera system. The agreement also provides safeguards to prevent staff from unnecessarily viewing prisoners who are naked or performing bodily functions.