‘I don’t desire my son dead’ Alabama prison inmates extort families from behind bars

Linda Donah prisoner mother

Linda Donah says she sporadically gets calls from inmates at Easterling Correctional center in Barbour County. That’s where her son Shannon is imprisoned.

The phone telephone calls are simple Send cash, or your son could die

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She claims she delivered $300 last time. She’s sent bigger amounts within the ful years – $400, $500. The funds is delivered through Green Dot, Pay Pal, Western Union or Walmart cards. She reports the telephone calls, she claims, to your Alabama Department of Corrections also to federal authorities.

Donah ’s story of extortion is similar to those discovered during an extensive two-and-a-half-year investigation that is federal of prisons, released this thirty days by the U.S. Department of Justice. “Alabama’s incapacity to avoid and address the extortion of prisoners and prisoners’ household members contributes to a risk that is substantial of damage,” the report reported.

The findings that are federal seven examples, along side screenshots of texts with threats, painting a photo of cr ks behind bars able to extend influence on innocent loved ones beyond the walls.

“They state, don’t pay it,” she said. “I stated, ‘I don’t want my son dead over money.’ I’ve spent nearly everything I’ve got attempting to keep him alive, any right time he’s down in population.”

‘It’s horrible’

Shannon Donah , 46, has been around Alabama’s prisons for 26 years following a murder conviction in Talladega County. Housed in Easterling, he’s a four-hour vehicle trip from his mother’s home in Pell City. Linda, 72, can not any longer make the journey due to her vision, affected by cataracts. Besides the extortion threats, she regularly will pay money for debts her son may incur behind bars. Nevertheless the extortion telephone calls will be the worst.

“They’ve been standing over him, repairing to destroy him, sometimes when they call,” she stated. “It’s horrible. It’s because he’s on drugs. But it’s occurred in various prisons. I never understand who it’s.” She claims the phone calls began a lot more than 15 years back, at various prisons, but with similar threats of death and violence.

Linda has documented her son’s amount of time in prison, composing letters on noteb k paper to wardens, prison officials as well as others advocating for her son. Her letters, in a moving cursive script, turn bold when she repeats a familiar phrase “He is in fear for his life.” It really is that devotion that drives her to keep to pay the extortion money.

“When your kid hurts, you hurt,” she stated. “If you worry about your youngster, you’d do anything you could in the world to greatly help them.”

Donah stated she didn’t speak to the Justice Department during its research, but other people have fallen victim to comparable schemes. Based on the DOJ report, a Ventress prisoner’s mom in 2018 reported that she and her son were being extorted for money to pay off an alleged $600 debt to another prisoner january. Because of their failure to pay for, the target was threatened and beaten with rape.

“His mother later called to report that she was being extorted by a prisoner at Ventress who texted her photos of a cell phone,” the report claimed. “Through texts, he threatened to chop her son into pieces and rape him if she didn’t send him $800. In February 2018, the inmate called our toll-free line and affirmed what his mother had reported.”

Method & means

The Alabama Department of Corrections says it investigates every extortion case involving inmates and charge that is“will prosecute any individual proven to be involved,” whether the individual is an inmate or otherwise not.

Over the past 1 . 5 years, ADOC claims its Investigations and Intelligence Division has investigated 18 extortion instances. The division notes that extortion schemes tend to be connected with unlawful contraband, such as cell phones, which officers search for during contraband sweeps in its institutions.

During the last couple of months, ADOC has initiated several contraband that is high-profile through its prisons. The other day, significantly more than 300 law enforcement officers staged a predawn raid at William C. Holman Correctional Facility, beginning about 4 30 a.m. at the maximum-security Atmore lockup, which houses 870 inmates. Officers seized 356 makeshift t ls, 91 grms of meth, 98 grms of marijuana, cocaine, more than 400 assorted pills and 16 cellphones, ADOC officials announced Friday.

In February, ADOC held another contraband raid at St. Clair Correctional Facility. During the last 36 months, ADOC states this has confiscated a lot more than 12,000 cellphones in sweeps of all its facilities.

Just how do cellphones enter? Through a few avenues, ADOC states, including visitors and unsecured perimeters at prisons. This past year, ADOC said it made more than 60 arrests for crimes including smuggling contraband cellular phones to medication trafficking.

There are various other means for contraband to have in. This past year, federal prisons had been put into FAA limited areas for drones – another potential way of getting what to inmates. While state prisons are not one of them, ADOC said an assessment is underway about adding them.

Expensive measures

Final February, ADOC Commissioner Jeff Dunn along with other state corrections directors came across with officials through the Federal Communications Commission about introducing brand new technology, such as jamming gear, to produce contraband cellphones unusable inside correctional facilities. But this might need action from Congress while the FCC. And these remedies are not cheap. a system that is similar consideration for the sc prison system, which include 17 facilities, had been approximated at costing $9 million.

So that as along with other problems dealing with Alabama prisons, ADOC said contraband that is preventing be enhanced by hiring more officers and building better prisons. In February, Gov. Kay Ivey announced that her administration will seek bids for building three prisons that are regional escort service Rochester men to displace aging, cramped facilities that ADOC has said are t costly to keep and repair.