BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Alabama’s Department of Corrections (ADOC) confirms another person has committed suicide inside a state prison.
At approximately 11:45 a.m. on Friday, March 8, officials found Rashaud Dederic Morrissette, 24, unresponsive in a housing area at Fountain Correctional Facility in Atmore. Medical staff performed CPR on Morrissette but were unable to revive him. His death has been ruled a suicide. Morrissette was sentenced to three years in December 2018 for a third-degree burglary conviction in Mobile County.
Morrissette’s death marks the fifteenth suicide in fifteen months in ADOC facilities. WBRC filed this story on the last person to die by suicide in ADOC custody on February 14.
Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is representing prisoners with mental illness in a class action lawsuit over mental healthcare, in which a federal judge ruled against ADOC in 2017, calling the care “horrendously inadequate.”
Suicides in segregation units have been a central issue in the litigation. In January, SPLC filed a preliminary injunction against ADOC, seeking to end the placement of high-risk prisoners in segregation, in light of the recent suicides. A hearing on the preliminary injunction will be heard in federal court March 18 and is expected to last a week.
On March 8, SPLC filed expert recommendations on suicide prevention, including immediate intervention in the event of a suicide in progress. “Cut down, remove noose, and begin life-saving measures and continue until a physician declares death,” the report states.
This comes after Paul Ford’s suicide in ADOC custody on January 16, 2019. Ford’s previous suicide attempts were detailed in an emergency motion filed by SPLC, including one incident in which prison staff returned Ford to the same segregation cell where he had previously attempted suicide, which had not been cleaned and still had the noose hanging where he had tied it.
ADOC also confirmed another homicide that happened Tuesday at Bibb County Correctional Facility in Brent. Quinton Ashaad Few, 27, was fatally stabbed when he was assaulted by another prisoner inside the facility at approximately 2 p.m. Few was serving a 20-year-sentence on a 2010 first-degree robbery in Clay County.
Officials have identified 31-year-old Terrence Griffin as a suspect in the stabbing. Griffin, who is serving a life sentence on a 2011 murder conviction in Tuscaloosa County, now faces a capital murder charge.
Alabama prisons were recently identified as “the deadliest in the nation” by Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), with a prison homicide rate that is ten times the national average. The violence is attributed to severe understaffing and overcrowding, as well as poor security, contraband and mismanagement.
Last month, Governor Kay Ivey announced plans to solve the crisis by building new regional prisons for men for $900 million. WBRC reported on the skepticism surrounding the plan and price tag and EJI recently published a report arguing that new prison construction will not solve the Alabama prison crisis.