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Ivey visits prisons, thanks corrections officers

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Gov. Kay Ivey visited two Alabama prisons this week to thank state corrections officers for their work, her office said Thursday.

The governor visited Kilby Correctional Facility near Montgomery and Tutwiler Women’s Facility in Wetumpka, her office said. Officers were not aware of the visits in advance, her office said. The holiday season visits come as the state faces an ongoing prison crisis, including a shortage of officers.

“The work of correctional staff is not easy. In fact, it may just be one of the toughest jobs in the country, absent of the recognition that is beyond well-deserved,” Ivey said in a statement.

The governor met with each officer at the prison during the day’s shift change, her office said.

“Corrections officers and support staff play a vital role in keeping our families and communities safe, while providing opportunities for rehabilitation to the inmates willing to better themselves. The work they do each and every day is essential to our public safety, and their necessary contributions are something we should never take for granted,” Ivey said.

The U.S. Department of Justice has an ongoing lawsuit against Alabama over prisons it says are “riddled with prisoner-on-prisoner and guard-on-prisoner violence.”

The lawsuit accuses Alabama of operating prisons where conditions are so poor they violate the U.S. Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. While Alabama has acknowledged problems in state prisons, the state is disputing the Justice Department’s allegations of unconstitutional conditions and is fighting the lawsuit in court.

Seven current or former corrections officers have been arrested in recent weeks on bribery or ethics charges following internal investigations by the prison system.

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