Governor Robert Bentley on Friday announced the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) has asked a national expert in criminal justice management and sexual safety in confinement to assist in continuing the reform efforts at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka.
The Moss Group (TMG) is a Washington, D.C. based consulting group with a national reputation for assisting criminal justice agencies. The group will aid the department in complying with federal Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) requirements and build on other reform efforts that are already underway at Tutwiler. In addition, TMG will help with the culture, staffing and safety assessments, policy review and development, technical assistance and training on internal investigations and other issues affecting the facility, staff and inmate safety. TMG has worked in all 50 states with some of the most respected professionals in corrections.
"Andie Moss has more than 25 years in working with correctional management issues with a specific emphasis on sexual safety," Governor Robert Bentley said. "The Department of Corrections has made significant improvements at Tutwiler to create a safer environment. The Moss Group will focus on continuing our efforts to improve the facility. The issues at Tutwiler cannot be changed overnight, but with the reform efforts already underway combined with the technical assistance provided by the Moss Group, Tutwiler will be a better facility for the staff who work there and the inmates who are incarcerated there."
In January of 2013, ADOC Commissioner Kim Thomas announced a 58-item action plan aimed at improving the operations at Tutwiler. These directives represent important changes that will serve to enhance inmate safety and reduce the opportunities for abuse. Some examples include enhancing inmate privacy by adding new panel doors in the bathroom areas, modifying policies to take into account gender differences and specific requirements of the women inmates, and a continued effort to recruit much needed staff to safely supervise the inmate population. To date, all 58 recommendations have been initiated.
"I am impressed by the commitment of Governor Bentley and Commissioner Thomas and the forthrightness with which they are willing to confront the challenges at Tutwiler," Andie Moss, President of The Moss Group, Inc. said. "The Moss Group is committed to helping the Alabama Department of Corrections address the safety concerns and achieve compliance with PREA requirements."
"Nothing will be able to change the past culture at Tutwiler," Corrections Commissioner Kim Thomas said. "However, we are moving in a new direction with Tutwiler, and I am committed to our reform efforts to address the concerns there and in the entire Alabama prison system. Custodial sexual misconduct is the most egregious abuse of power, and it will not be tolerated as long as I am commissioner. The staff at the Department of Corrections does a tremendous job under very difficult circumstances, and our employees are just as committed to reforming Tutwiler as I am. The Moss Group will help raise the level of focus on Tutwiler as we continue to implement the best practices possible in our women's facility. I appreciate the Governor's attention and support of the positive efforts currently underway at the Alabama Department of Corrections."
TMG will focus primarily on PREA compliance and safety at Tutwiler. However, the information provided will offer positive and transferable benefits for addressing concerns in the entire correctional system.
A professional services contact with TMG will be finalized over the next month.