Beth Shelburne Profile picture
Journalist, writer, investigative reporter, podcaster. Heart attack survivor, pal to assorted humans. Mostly brave except with roaches.
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Mar 16 4 tweets 1 min read
Talked to man in work release prison who just got denied parole. He's in min-security, working in community every day, going home on 40 hour passes, all privileges granted to ppl who earn them by following rules. AL parole board denied him, set him off 5 years, until 2029. 1/4 This man has served over 10 years for drug manufacturing, no violent conviction. Last parole denial they set him off 3 years. So he followed rules, no write-ups, kept his head down, got custody lowered, has been working hard, and was rewarded with an even longer set off. 2/4
Dec 15, 2022 5 tweets 2 min read
Alabama's parole board routinely denies people in minimum-custody work camps citing public safety, yet these same people are working unsupervised in the community. ADOC gave them min-security status bc they've proven themselves which used to mean likely parole. NOT ANYMORE. 1/5 EXAMPLE: Mashell Mann shot her abuser in self defense & got 40 years. She drives the van at Bham work release, a job assigned to the most trustworthy person. Still, the board denied parole & set her off 5 years. She has a stellar record but is stuck in prison making $2 a day. 2/5
Aug 27, 2022 7 tweets 3 min read
An incredibly illuminating moment at a recent parole hearing in Alabama. Instead of listing her son's accomplishments in prison, a mother decided to tell the parole board about the violence & suffering her son has experienced for the last 25 years. Watch what happened. 1/7 Ms. Harris says at the last 3 parole hearings, she talked about her son's remorse & prison classes. "That hasn't worked, so I thought this time I'm going to tell them what his life has really been like in there." He's been robbed & beaten many times. 2/7
Aug 26, 2022 4 tweets 2 min read
Paroles from Alabama min-security work prisons have fallen 83% since @GovernorKayIvey picked a career prosecutor as board chair. Thus, keeping people in low wage (many $2 a day) work prisons indefinitely, prisons described by ADOC for short term stays to prepare for release. 1/4 The parole board held 34 hearings Tues, granting only one parole. 6 of 33 people denied are imprisoned in min-security work centers or work release. That means ADOC deemed them low risk enough to work in the community, but the parole board still doesn't want them to go home. 2/4
Aug 11, 2022 6 tweets 3 min read
Hear that sound? It's the CHA-CHING of cash registers ringing across Alabama! Big money is being made in @GovernorKayIvey's "Alabama solution" to build new mega-prisons, starting with HOAR PROGRAM MANAGEMENT, which has made $4.3 million off the plan so far this fiscal year. 1/6 What exactly is HOAR contributing to the mega-prison construction plan? According to their latest $8.8 million contract extension (CHA-CHING!) the firm will continue to provide "program management services" & "procurement analysis & support" to ADOC, Gov. Ivey & lawmakers. 2/6
Jul 27, 2022 4 tweets 1 min read
I've heard some Alabama politicians try to justify spending $1.2 billion on new mega-prisons by saying it's the only way to provide adequate programming, that it can't be done in current facilities. But both incarcerated people & prison staff tell me this is simply not true. 1/4 The current lack of rehabilitative programs in ADOC is due to lack of staff, not lack of space, say prisoners & staff. How else can these abysmal program numbers be explained, when prisons were MORE OVERCROWDED in 2013 by 6000 ppl, but saw hundreds more completing programs? 2/4
Jul 9, 2022 5 tweets 3 min read
I am sad to report 4 deaths inside Alabama prisons in the last week, sources say all drug-related. ADOC has confirmed these deaths & says they are "under investigation." What exactly that means, I don't know. I DO know July 1, Jessie Bennett, 44, died at Donaldson CF. 1/5 On July 2, Kenneth James, 36, died at Donaldson CF. His photo had already been removed from the ADOC database by the time I heard about his death. ADOC says he was found unresponsive on the floor of his cell. A staff source says he was housed in segregation. 2/5
Jul 22, 2021 5 tweets 1 min read
The hardest conversations I have are with families of incarcerated people who have died in Alabama prisons & they don't know why. Here's how it goes. They receive urgent messages from people incarcerated in the prison that something terrible has happened to their loved one. 1/5 In a panic they call the prison, but it could be hours or days for staff to confirm their loved one's death. Sometimes they finally reach the warden or chaplain, but other times an admin assistant gives the news. They are often met with hostility on the other end of the line. 2/5
May 25, 2021 10 tweets 2 min read
Day 2 of Braggs v. Dunn trial has started covering suicides in the Alabama prison system. I'm watching the trial via Zoom and will be tweeting today on this thread. Dr. Kathryn Burns, former psychiatrist in Ohio prisons is testifying about failures by ADOC to prevent suicides. Plaintiffs attorney is comparing past suicides that the Court already found were caused by ADOC's failures & inadequate care and asking the expert if she sees the same failures & inadequacies in the 12 most recent suicides. So far her answer has been yes each time.
May 24, 2021 4 tweets 1 min read
Testimony about the death of Charles Braggs is hard to hear. Braggs, 28, spent almost his entire incarceration in solitary confinement, A DECADE, in which he lost 30 lbs & was "extraordinarily thin." He reported hallucinating, but a mental health worker marked him as "stable." Image Braggs died the night of July 27, 2020. That day, he asked to see a nurse, but never did. In the hour before his death, a nurse called three times for officers to bring Braggs to the infirmary. They told her Braggs had no clothes. 15 mins later, an officer says he found Braggs.
May 24, 2021 7 tweets 3 min read
Listening to Braggs v. Dunn trial, the class-action lawsuit against @ALCorrections over lack of mental healthcare. Testimony today will cover 12 recent suicides in Alabama prisons. They are starting with Marco Tolbert, a 32 y/o who killed himself 3 months after treatment stopped. Image Attorney for ADOC objecting to the use of psychological autopsies from past suicides bc he says they are confidential. Attorney for prisoners says the documents are highly relevant & the people discussed in them are deceased. "The public has a right to know this info about ADOC."
May 24, 2021 7 tweets 3 min read
Despite @TheJusticeDept suing @ALCorrections over epic prison violence, Alabama's @AGSteveMarshall says the state "doesn't have an incarceration problem. We have a criminal and a crime problem." Why this spin is a false narrative in a thread: 1/7… Marshall says 80% of Alabama's prison pop is there for violent crimes and THAT'S why the prisons are violent. This is absurd. The number of ppl in prison for the top violent crimes has stayed about the same for a decade. What has changed? Alabama's list of violent crime. 2/7
Apr 16, 2021 12 tweets 6 min read
PRISON MONEY, A THREAD: In summer 2019, Barclays announced it would stop financing private prisons. Now it seems they’ve changed their minds: @Barclays is financing a deal that will funnel more than $2 billion to private prison operator @CoreCivic. 1/12 CoreCivic will use the money @Barclays helps raise to build 2 mega-prisons in Alabama. It will then lease the
prisons to @ALCorrections which is currently being sued by @TheJusticeDept for operating violent, corrupt prisons. 2/12
Jan 27, 2021 6 tweets 3 min read
On December 7, 2020 Tommy Rutledge died of hyperthermia in a mental health ward at @ALCorrections Donaldson CF. His body temp was 109 degrees, his prison cell was between 101-104 degrees. I obtained the autopsy & am trying to get answers as to how in the hell this happened. 1/6 The autopsy narrative is horrifying. Rutledge was found "sitting near the window of his cell with his head facing out the window believed attempting to breathe/obtain cool/cold air." The image of this man who had no way to escape the roaring heat in a closed cell. It's awful. 2/6
Jan 26, 2021 13 tweets 6 min read
December 16, 2020 Ronald McKeithen walked out of prison after 37 years of incarceration. Watching this beautiful human experience freedom for the first time in his adult life has been nothing short of a miracle. Ron was sentenced to die in prison in 1984, when he was 22. 1/12 In the last 5 weeks he’s experienced so many firsts. His first suit. First Zoom. His first welcome home party that friends, including me, threw for him when he was still pinching himself to make sure freedom was real. At 58, Ron now lives in the very first room of his own. 2/12
Dec 22, 2020 11 tweets 4 min read
Willie Simmons has been in prison 38 years 9 months & 15 days for a single $9 robbery & 3 property crimes. 1 year ago he shared his story and despite global outrage over his punishment, Willie remains locked up. I spoke to him recently & he asked me to pass along a message. 1/11 Willie is thankful for the outpouring of support over the last year, including 1500 letters from all over the world. "A whole heap of 'em," he said, laughing. "I know it’s a blessing from God above." He's sorry he hasn't responded to everyone, but he's read all the letters. 2/11
Dec 14, 2020 7 tweets 2 min read
I've been thinking about the callous response from @ALCorrections over @TheJusticeDept suing Alabama. To view the prisons as anything outside a bloody shameful horror, one must willfully other the victims. If you gaslight the process you don't have to focus on the people. 1/7 Dwight Campbell, 48, is just one person murdered in an Alabama prison this year. Last month he was stabbed to death at Bullock CF and as the DOJ pointed out in the complaint, he'd been eligible for parole for 8 months and was 3 weeks away from his hearing when he was killed. 2/7
Apr 23, 2020 6 tweets 2 min read
THREAD: I appreciate advocacy for releasing people from jails & prisons, but limiting this opportunity to "nonviolent offenders" ignores the larger problem of categorizing people this way. Offenses are defined by politicians & many violent offenses aren't truly violent. 1/6 Example: in Alabama 3rd degree burglary is considered violent. This is breaking into a shed & stealing a lawnmower. Someone who did this 30 years ago is still called a "violent offender." Drug trafficking, possession of explosives, hindering prosecution- all violent in AL. 2/6
Mar 6, 2020 5 tweets 2 min read
Just got off phone with Kimberly Chisholm Simmons, sister of Harley Chisholm III, one of 3 Birmingham police officers killed in 2004. She does not support the execution of #NateWoods. "He did not kill my brother. This is so unjust. I don't understand," she told me in tears. 1/5 She tried to contact @GovernorKayIvey, but was told the Gov was in a meeting. She spoke with a staff member, expressing her deep misgivings about Nate's death warrant. She asked them to please grant mercy. She was told someone would call her back. No one ever did. 2/5
Feb 13, 2020 5 tweets 1 min read
Many incarcerated people I talk to are older & have done a lot of time. They consistently describe the younger generation in prison as out-of-control- more violent, drug-addicted & hopeless than they ever were. I hear this from officers too. So what's going on? 1/5 I've wondered- is this just middle-aged scorn for young people? "Back in my day, we didn't disrespect our elders... etc" or are they onto something? Is the younger generation in worse shape and if so why? What is different for them and about them to produce this perception? 2/5
Dec 22, 2019 12 tweets 3 min read
THREAD: Today I talked to Willie Simmons, who has spent the last 38 years in prison for stealing $9. He was convicted of 1st degree robbery & sentenced to life without parole in 1982, prosecuted under Alabama's habitual offender law because he had 3 prior convictions. 1/12 He told me his priors were 1 grand larceny and 2 receiving stolen property. I could only locate the grand larceny from 1979. He did a year in prison for that conviction, and thinks he did about the same for the other crimes. "But I really can't remember," he said. 2/12