MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Department of Corrections said Thursday that it is investigating the apparent suicide of one inmate and the stabbing death of another.
The deaths occurred days apart at separate prisons, but both come after advocacy groups raised concern about the suicide and homicide rates in state prisons.
Prison officials found 24-year-old Rashaud Dederic Morrissette unresponsive Friday in the housing area of Fountain Correctional Facility in Atmore, a department news release said. Medical staff were unable to revive him. His death has been ruled a suicide.
The department said it is not releasing further details amid the ongoing investigation and an autopsy to determine the cause of death.
Morrissette was serving a three-year sentence for a burglary conviction in Mobile County.
The prison system says another inmate, 27-year-old Quinton Ashaad Few, was stabbed to death after being assaulted by another inmate Tuesday at Bibb County Correctional Facility in Brent. Few was serving a 20-year-sentence for a robbery conviction in Clay County.
The prison system says 31-year-old Terrence Griffin, an inmate serving a life sentence, is a suspect in Few’s death.
The department said the incident remains under investigation.
Both advocacy groups and the prison system itself have raised concerns about violence in state prisons.
The Montgomery-based nonprofit organization Equal Justice Initiative last year said that Alabama inmates live “under constant threat of violence.”
Alabama Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn is asking the Alabama Legislature for funds to hire an additional 500 correctional officers. He told lawmakers in January that there is a “direct correlation between the shortage of officers in our prisons and an increase in violence.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which is representing inmates in an ongoing lawsuit over prison mental health care, has said the state hasn’t done enough to address the rising suicide rate. It said there had been 13 inmate suicides in 14 months.
The Alabama Department of Corrections responded last month that the “recent spike in suicides within ADOC is an on-going concern” and is being addressed.