Alabama corrections putting murder convicts in public, unsupervised by department

Alabama corrections putting murder convicts in public, unsupervised by department

MONTGOMERY, AL (WAFF) - The Alabama Department of Corrections is putting inmates convicted of murder into governmental jobs around the state, unsupervised by any corrections officers.

The ADOC website states the jobs include positions at state, county, and city municipalities, and the inmates placed in those roles “do not pose a significant risk to self or others."

In December, one such convicted murderer escaped.

Now, a Tennessee Valley woman is concerned her mothers' murderer could be next.

The murder of Tonya Peavy

Curtis Anderson pleaded guilty to the 2005 murder of Tonya Peavy in September 2008.

An October 2005 Gadsen Times report on his arrest states:

“Investigators said it appeared the couple had been involved in a domestic dispute at their home where she was shot. They believe Anderson dumped Peavy’s body behind a vacant building on Brown Street.”

Tonya Peavy, murdered in 2005
Tonya Peavy, murdered in 2005 (Source: Tiffany Carlisle)
Curtis Anderson plead guilty to the murder of Tonya Peavy in 2008. He is now held at the North Alabama Community Work Center
Curtis Anderson plead guilty to the murder of Tonya Peavy in 2008. He is now held at the North Alabama Community Work Center (Source: ADOC)

Anderson is being held at the North Alabama Community Work Center, just outside of Decatur.

ADOC classifies him as a “minimum-out” inmate.

The department’s definition of the classification is as follows:

“Appropriate for inmates that do not pose a significant risk to self or others and suitable to be assigned off-property work details without the direct supervision of correctional officers. Inmates must remain in prison clothing at all times and work is generally assigned to only government positions (i.e. city, county, ADOC, ADOT, etc.). Inmates in this custody are generally assigned to Community Work Centers (CWC) with higher security facilities only maintain a small number of job assignments requiring minimal supervision.”

Citing security reasons, the department declined to state where Anderson specifically works when he is off-property.

Peavy’s daughter, Tiffany Carlisle, said his status is unacceptable in light of his crime and treatment of her mother.

“There were several domestic violence incidents. Actually the day before it happened she had left him and come to my house, and there were 63 missed calls on our home phone. He was just calling repeatedly, wanting her to come back home," she said.

Court documents state Anderson was arrested in 2004 for hitting Peavy with his fist and attempting to choke her.

Peavy ultimately declined to prosecute, and it was dismissed with conditions.

(Source: Tiffany Carlisle)

Anderson’s prior guilty pleas include promotion of prison contraband (2004), resisting arrest (2001), possession of cocaine (1997), felony DUI (1995), driving while revoked (1994), and DUI liquor (1994).

“He’s no one that needs to be out, period,” Carlisle said.

How do murder convicts get there?

The Alabama Department of Corrections uses a classification system which assigns inmates to three levels of custody: close, medium, and minimum.

ADOC’s Male Classification Manual states the process includes an inmate interview, psychological evaluation, a study of the inmates previous run-ins with the law, a risk-assessment and the professional judgement of the classification specialist assigned to the inmates case.

Minimum level custody is broken down into three levels: minimum-in (most restrictive), minimum-out (Anderson’s classification), and minimum-community (least restrictive).

Minimum-community (commonly known as “work release”) allows inmates to wear street clothes and work for private businesses in the community. Convicted murderers are not allowed to be put in the minimum-community classification.

Similarly, inmates convicted of the murder of an individual under 12 years old, over 70 years old, or physically disabled may not be put in any minimum custody.

The manual states inmates with a homicide or attempted murder conviction within three years of their end of sentence or parole consideration may be put in the minimum-out classification.

Anderson’s 2008 guilty plea included a 25 year sentence. It’s unclear when his next parole date is.

ADOC Associate Commissioner of Plans and Programs Steve Watson said the department’s objective is to classify each inmate to the least restrictive custody possible, while still maintaining public safety.

“Why you want to classify them to the least restrictive is so they can participate in more programs, and to be exposed to more to enhance their probability of success,” he said.

The 2017 ADOC fiscal report states that as of 2014, 31.5 percent of Alabama’s released inmates are returning to the prison system within three years.

WAFF 48 News asked Watson if he was comfortable with putting murderers in public without ADOC supervision.

“Absolutely. That’s part of the classification manual that you read right there. The placement of the inmate in those situations are depended on, and public safety is taken into account as far as the criteria is involved,” Watson said.

Government workers supervising inmates and their escapes

Watson said the ADOC enters into agreements with the municipalities and trains government employees before they supervise any inmates.

Part of the agreement gives the municipalities discretion as to the level of inmate supervision, which could include law enforcement.

North Region ALDOT said it does not use law enforcement supervision. Huntsville Police, the Madison County’s Sheriff’s Office, Limestone County Sheriff’s Office and Decatur Police all said officers do not supervise minimum-out inmates.

“Supervision, it provides an element of security, and it doesn’t require it to be a law enforcement officer. It can be a municipal employee, and quite often it is, that is trained and has been oriented to the rules of program that provide supervision over that inmate,” Watson said.

He said providing armed security for all off property inmates is not feasible. The 2017 ADOC fiscal report states there were 3,224 minimum custody inmates at its publishing.

It states the North Alabama Community Work Center held 613 at that time.

Watson said the supervising employees receive yearly training and are “100 percent” responsible for the inmates during their time off ADOC property.

“They are the eyes and ears at that time, because they’re the ones that have checked the inmates out in accordance with the rules of the facility and the rules of the agency, and they are responsible for their supervision, and if anything out of the way happens, they pick up the phone and they call,” he said.

In fiscal year 2018 (October 2017-September 2018), four inmates escaped their minimum-in or minimum-out custody.

Three of them were from the North Alabama facility, where Anderson is currently being held.

The department reports 19 escapes in total during that time frame, with seven coming from the North Alabama facility.

Those fiscal year statistics do not reflect escapes since, where at least one murder convict escaped.

Jimmy Lee Hill escaped Red Eagle Community Work Center in Montgomery on December 22, 2018. Authorities recaptured him on Christmas Eve.

Jimmy Lee Hill escaped Red Eagle Community Work Center in December. He was convicted in a 1993 murder.
Jimmy Lee Hill escaped Red Eagle Community Work Center in December. He was convicted in a 1993 murder. (Source: ADOC)

Hill was convicted of murder in 1993 for stabbing Arcola Tims to death. He is serving a life sentence, and was classified minimum-out at the time of his escape.

Watson said the department has no plans to adjust minimum security supervision.

The ADOC declined a request for the North Alabama Community Work Center’s inmate roster, citing security reasons.

It’s unclear how many murder convicts are currently working for government agencies in the Valley.

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