Alabama’s Childersburg Community Work Center

Via San Francisco Bayview

by Ismail Shabazz

After a roof caved in a year ago in another part of the prison, more beds were moved into this already overcrowded dorm.

Written Jan. 5, 2015 – When I arrived at Childersburg Community Work Center on Oct. 25, 2013, I did so with one of the worst cases of ringworm any of the medical staff here or at St. Clair had ever seen. How that came to be I will explain later. It didn’t take long for me to see that I was at a very nasty and unconstitutional facility, and on Nov. 19, 2013, I filed a formal complaint to the U.S. Department of Justice and the State Fire Marshall.

We are requesting that an investigation and inspection be conducted at Childersburg:

  1. Muslim inmates are being denied Friday prayer services.
  2. The CWC dorms are extremely overcrowded. The beds are so close together that we have to turn sideways to walk down the aisle.
  3. The beds and locker boxes are infested with roaches.
  4. Right outside the dorm, not 50 yards away, is the waste pond; being the equipment doesn’t work, we are at times subjected to the foul odors and the bugs.
  5. The toilets, sinks, showers and laundry area are very nasty. There’s busted pipes with water constantly running under the sinks.
  6. At this very moment inmates are trying to buy toilet paper because the two rolls they give every two weeks are not enough.
  7. Every morning around 7 a.m. Monday-Friday, if it’s not below 34 degrees, we are forced outside and inmates use belts to tie the doors closed. For inmates like us with no winter clothes, being forced to stand outside for over three hours is brutal.

We are requesting that an investigation and inspection be conducted at Childersburg.

On March 7, 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice assigned our complaint a case number: No. 210-01-0/441367. Around the same time the complaint was filed, the same inmate and I filed a civil complaint in the Circuit Court at Talladega County, Alabama, No. V-2013-186.

By this time I had been assigned to work in the kitchen to bake, but due to the ringworms the medical staff wouldn’t allow me to work. On Dec. 2, 2013, a motion was filed. On Dec. 4, 2013, a copy was served on the defendants and around midnight on Dec. 5, the other inmate and I were awakened, shaken down and drug tested.

This cesspool – or waste pond – lies just outside the door of our dorm.

Later that morning I was called and given another job assignment. The classification specialist was ordered to get me a job outside so that I wouldn’t be in the center. I was assigned to work for the City of Childersburg.

Today is Jan. 5, 2015, and the conditions here are worse. On Jan. 6, 2014, the ceiling on the work release building fell in and they moved over 100 beds and inmates into the already overcrowded dorm. The other inmate who filed with me was transferred on Feb. 5, 2014. Most of the beds were finally removed in April 2014, but 38 remain, 32 of them down the center of the floor.

We were given one roll of toilet paper over two weeks ago and due to some of us speaking out, earlier this morning Lt. Swain passed out one roll to those in the center and informed us that supplies would be given out tomorrow night. It has been over a month since soap was passed out.

One of their informants must have told them that I was planning to file because a few minutes ago the captain came in and went straight to the restroom. Then moments later the inmates in maintenance came in to work on two toilets that haven’t worked since I’ve been here.

The ceiling on the work release building fell in and they moved over 100 beds and inmates into the already overcrowded dorm.

But as you can see by the photos this place should be condemned. The cesspools are the worst I’ve seen. There’s pipes and wires coming from the ground. The kitchen is sad. I have witnessed roaches crawling on the serving line during meals. The clothes worn by the workers are filthy.

There are diabetics here and those of us who are supposed to be on a wellness diet, but there’s no such thing here. We are required to sign a book when we eat just to receive two packs of zero calorie sweeteners.

The cleaning supplies given are so watered down they serve no purpose.

The lack of maintenance is appalling.

The laundry is degrading. The washers are packed and the workers use very little soap, saving it to use to wash clothes for those who can afford to pay. There’s scabies and the dorm is usually so cold that we must wear hats, sweat suits and jackets to stay warm.

And the showers: Not only is the water usually cold due to the sinks and washers all being on the same system, but to step out in the open and exposed area is degrading.

When there’s a very heavy rain, there are leaks all over the dorm. And the medical unit – Oh, my God! Before coming here, I was on a wellness diet due to high cholesterol and due to an elevated H1C blood sugar. I received a yearly eye exam for suspected glaucoma and fasting blood work.

But here I have not received either. The administration here, starting with the warden and captain, are corrupt and proven liars and I have documents to prove it. There are legal documents, personal emails shared between them conspiring to retaliate against an inmate who filed complaints on them.

This system, the Alabama Department of Corrections and the Parole Board, are deeply corrupt. This not about corrections or rehabilitation. This is a multi-million-dollar-a-year slave corporation. The prisons are like slave ships, warehouses, run down and packed beyond capacity.

Who am I? I’m a slave. I’m Da Story Teller 7. I am a 50-year-old Black man. I believe that I am one of the most creative minds in the state and also the most dangerous. I’m a writer. I’m a published songwriter, poet. I sing, rap and produce music.

There was a story done on me in the May 16, 1999, Mobile Press Register. I have done some acting. I am married and have been with my wife for 14 years. I have two daughters, ages 33 and 24. I have a 25-year-old stepson and a 15-year-old granddaughter.

I was born in Birmingham, Alabama. I’ve lived in California. I’m a skilled baker. I’ve obtained a diploma in private investigations. I am presently working to self-publish my first fictional novel titled “Secrets,” a powerful love story with a spectacular ending, and the way that I plan to publish this novel, to my knowledge, has never been done.

Finally, a wall has been built to enclose the showers.

Sometimes it’s overwhelming, frustrating, the ideas that daily run through my mind for stories, music, even commercials and a reality show. There’s never been one done the way I desire to do one! But because I am a slave, my letters to agents, publishers and the news media have gone ignored.

I have served over 27 years. On Dec. 11, 2011, I ended a 25-year sentence from Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama, for theft of property and I began serving a life sentence from Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama, for robbery, third degree. I have lost my parents, grandparents. I haven’t seen my only biological daughter in 30 years. I’ve never met my granddaughter.

I am dangerous because I am a slave who’s not afraid to speak out against the wickedness and corruption within the Alabama Department of Corrections. In the past five years I have been to five different facilities and the things that I’ve witnessed and documented are criminal.

Complaints have been filed with the U.S. Department of Justice, the Commissioner, the U.S. Attorney, but because the corruption within the prison is so deep, no one wants to get involved. There’s racism within the Parole Board, too. It’s time that the public knew the truth – raw, uncut.

Complaints have been filed with the U.S. Department of Justice, the Commissioner, the U.S. Attorney, but because the corruption within the prison is so deep, no one wants to get involved.

I’m an expert in this. I’m not one of those who say they’re an expert but have never spent one night in this plantation. I have lived it. I’ve studied it. I’ve evaluated it and, yes, I believe that I could do a better job with the system than the corrupt officials over it.

I already know that DOC officials will retaliate. I will be shaken down, probably locked up, transferred. Who knows?

Alabama parole

Written Jan. 11, 2015 – Do I believe that the members of the Parole Board are prejudiced? Of course I do.

This nonworking toilet had been good for nothing but trash until it was finally repaired a few days ago.

I was originally set to be considered for parole in May 2004 but I wasn’t given a hearing until March 20, 2006, and I was denied and set off for five years. My wife could not attend. But I vowed to go to the next one. I was again given a hearing on Oct. 4, 2011, and my wife with a family friend attended.

At this time I was actually serving a 25-year sentence from Jefferson County, Birmingham, Alabama, and the victims were all Black. And there were the consecutive life sentences for robbery third from Madison County, Huntsville, Alabama, and the victims all White.

None of the Black victims was there, but the son of one of the White victims was there because the state made sure of it.

According to my wife, the hearing was just for public show. The decision to deny me parole had already been made. She stated when the chairman came out, she spoke up on my behalf. Seeing that she was a Muslimah, dressed in hijab, he looked at her with disgust and in a rude manner allowed her to speak very briefly. But then it was not the victims but the son of one of the victims.

He stated that since the 1994 crime his mother had passed but that his father was now 86 years old and because I knew where they lived he and his sister did not want his father living in fear and advised the board that I had written his parents.

But what he didn’t share was the fact that it was an apology letter I got permission from the court to write. If my victims had been Black and I had not hurt anyone, I would have been out.

As I stated in my first section, when I first arrived here at Childersburg CWC, I was sick. And when I started filing complaints, I was given a job to get me out of the center.

Exposed pipes invite problems.

I was assigned to work for the City of Childersburg. From December 6, 2013 until Feb. 14, 2014 I worked for the Street and Sanitation Department and then, because my supervisor felt that I was a good worker, on Feb. 25, 2014, a position came open for Childersburg Parks and Rec.

Although I witnessed things that could shake up some city officials, my experiences at the Recreation Department taught me a lot. For the first time in my life I learned how to use a weed-eater, to drive a zero turn, how to cut and line soft ball, baseball, soccer and football fields. I enjoyed it. I got the pleasure of meeting good people.

On Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014, when I came in from work, another inmate came up and gave me my prayer rug and told me that he had gotten it from the trash. I was informed that the captain, Ronald Sellers, had come through to inspect and took my prayer rug from my bed and threw it in the trash. Of course I immediately went to find the captain, but I caught the warden and I explained it to him and of course he attempted to defend the captain.

This place is a rip off. For the past two days in my overcrowded dorm of 288 inmates, we have been without hot water. At times it’s so cold it’s unbearable, especially in the beds and shower area. This past Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015, was one of the coldest days so far this winter.

Something has to be done with this corrupt system: the details of things that have transpired here, the open corruption, the major violations in their disciplinary procedures, the racism. It’s time for the truth to be told. I am a slave. This is my voice. I am a Black man.

For more information, contact my wife, Mrs. Grenda Shabazz, at

5 thoughts on “Alabama’s Childersburg Community Work Center

  1. This is horrific. This is not “Rehabilitation”….This is “prisons for profit”….Just out of curiosity, was this facility a private prison? They tend to have lower standards (if you consider what the State considers standards) than State run facilities. I’ve heard about Alabama prisons…I’m in Florida and we have some very bad camps. Thank you for posting this. This is very descriptive and informative. And yes, the Warden, Captain, and staff will all retaliate. And that’s the main reason a lot of people do not come forward….


  2. This is very descriptive of many jails and prisons in America. You is not exaggerating. I know, I too served time. Thanks for raising your voice. When we all do, we will be heard. BTW, I wrote about my journey. My memoir is The Slumber Party from Hell.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s