Holman Correctional Facility

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Holman Correctional Facility
Seal of the Alabama Department of Corrections.svg
Location Escambia County, Alabama
Status open
Security class medium
Capacity 998
Opened December 1969
Managed by Alabama Department of Corrections

William C. Holman Correctional Facility is an Alabama Department of Corrections prison located in unincorporated southwestern Escambia County, Alabama.[1][2] The facility is along Alabama State Highway 21, 9 miles (14 km) north of Atmore in southern Alabama.[2]

The facility was built to house 581 inmates. Holman now holds more than a thousand prisoners. [3] It has 630 general population beds, 200 single cells, and 168 death row cells, for a capacity of 998 maximum through minimum-custody inmates, including a large contingent of life without parole inmates. The death chamber is located at Holman, where all state executions are conducted. Holman also operates two major correctional industries within the facility's perimeter: a license plate plant and a sewing factory.[1]

Holman Correctional Facility was the subject of a documentary on MSNBC entitled Lockup: Holman Extended Stay (2006).[4] The Warden at Holman Correctional Facility at the time was Grantt Culliver. Culliver was Warden from 2002 - 2009.[5] The current Warden is Cynthia Stewart.[1]


Opened during December 1969, Holman originally had a basic capacity for 520 medium-custody inmates, including a death row cellblock with a capacity of 20. It was constructed for $5,000,000 during the administration of Governor of Alabama Lurleen Wallace and Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner James T. Hagen. The prisoners of the old Kilby Prison were moved to Holman Prison. It was named in honor of a former warden, William C. Holman.[2]

Due in part to legislative rules on penalties for drug crimes, the prison population at Holman and other facilities began to climb in the 1970s. On Friday August 29, 1975, two U.S. federal district court judges, William Brevard Hand and Frank M. Johnson Jr., ordered Alabama authorities to stop sending any more prisoners to Holman, Fountain Correctional Facility, Draper Correctional Facility, and the Medical and Diagnostic Center, due to overcrowding; the four prisons, designed to hold 2,212 prisoners, were holding about 3,800.[6]

Since Holman opened, it gained a reputation for being the most violent prison in Alabama, a situation exacerbated by the years of overcrowding. Staff and prisoners said that after Grantt Culliver became the warden, violence decreased. This was covered in the documentary, Lockup: Holman Correctional Facility (2006), which MSNBC produced. Hillary Heath, the inside producer of Lockup, said that it is difficult for reputations to die down, so Holman still has a reputation for violence.[7]

The prison experienced riots in March 2016.[8] [9] In the first riot fires were set in a prison dorm, and the warden and a prison guard sustained stab wounds.[10] An individual recorded portions of the riot on a cell phone and posted it to social media.[11]

In September 2016, a group of corrections officers have gone on strike over safety concerns and overcrowding. Prisoners refer to the facility as a "slaughterhouse" as stabbings are a routine occurrence.[12]


The Gulf Coast area where Holman is located often has 100-degree heat during the summer. The prison administration cannot afford to install air conditioning, so the prison has hundreds of industrial fans used for moving the air in an attempt to provide cooling. The hottest areas in the prison are the kitchen facilities.[7]

The prison has a capacity of over 800 prisoners. The death row has room for 192 prisoners.[13]


As of 2006, Holman, with a capacity of 500 prisoners, houses 1,000; nearly 60% black, and 40% white

Prisoner life[edit]

Hillary Heath, the inside producer of Lockup, said that when she asked prisoners to describe Holman, they used names like "The Slaughterhouse", "Slaughter Pen of the South", and "House of Pain", which referred to the frequent stabbings and violent attacks committed among the prisoners. The names "The Bottom" and "The Pit" refer to the prison's location in southern Alabama. One inmate said that, within the state, "you can't get any lower than this."[7]

Heath reports that Holman inmates make "julep", a homegrown whiskey, using water, sugar, and yeast. She described julep as a brown liquid with dark floating chunks, resembling raw sewage. She said its odor "was not as vile as I imagined", smelling like sourdough bread and prunes.[7]

Prisoners who commit indecent exposure commit rule violation #38, thus indecent exposure is referred to by inmates as "doing a '38'". Violating rule 38 of ADOC policy requires an inmate to attend sex addiction courses.[7]

Notable prisoners[edit]

Death row (does not include prisoners who were only sent to Holman to attend their executions):

Non-death row:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Holman Correctional Facility." Alabama Department of Corrections. Retrieved on August 15, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c "Annual Report Fiscal Year 2003." Alabama Department of Corrections. 33/84. Retrieved on August 15, 2010.
  3. ^ Alan, Blinder (15 March 2016). "Alabama Prison Uprisings Come as State Grapples With How to Fix System". New York Times. Retrieved 16 March 2016. 
  4. ^ Lockup: Holman Extended Stay, MSNBC
  5. ^ "Former Holman warden takes serene outlook after 20 executions". Posted: Mar 18, 2010 9:32 AM CDT, Updated Mar 18, 2010 11:00 AM CDT. Retrieved on April 20, 2015
  6. ^ "Court closes Alabama prison gates," St. Petersburg Times, 30 August 1975. 2A. Retrieved from Google Books (3 of 56) on July 5, 2011.
  7. ^ a b c d e "Lockup: Holman Correctional Facility, (Archive) MSNBC, 11 December 2006, Retrieved on March 5, 2011.
  8. ^ "Alabama prison on lockdown after riot, two stabbed" (Archive). Reuters. March 12, 2016. Retrieved on March 14, 2016.
  9. ^ "List of demands from men incarcerated at Holman Prison in Alabama " San Francisco Bayview. March 15, 2016. Retrieved on March 21, 2016.
  10. ^ Reuters and Associated Press. "Inside the Alabama prison riots: Shocking footage captures rampaging masked prisoners armed with SWORDS as they run amok and start fires in their dormitories." Daily Mail. March 12, 2016.
  11. ^ "Inmates capture prison riot on camera." CNN. March 12, 2016.
  12. ^ Alabama Guards Stage Work Strike Months After Prisoner Uprising at Overcrowded Holman Facility. Democracy Now! September 28, 2016.
  13. ^ "Annual Report Fiscal Year 2012" (Archive). Alabama Department of Corrections. facilities map, page 26.
  14. ^ "Alabama pays Ohio for holding Klansman," Associated Press at The Tuscaloosa News. September 25, 1994. 8B. Retrieved from Google News (12 of 132) on March 3, 2011. Quote: "His son, Henry Hays, was sentenced to death for the Donald murder. He awaits an execution date at Holman Prison."
  15. ^ "Inmates Executed in Alabama." Alabama Department of Corrections. Retrieved on March 3, 2011.
  16. ^ "Moody Lawyer Quits." Associated Press at the Gadsden Times. B2. March 13, 1997. Retrieved from Google News (5 of 22) on March 3, 2011. Quote: "Moody, now at Holman Prison near Atmore, is serving seven federal life prison terms and was sentenced to death last month after the state trial in Birmingham."
  17. ^ "MOODY, WALTER LEROY JR." Alabama Department of Corrections. Retrieved on March 3, 2011.
  18. ^ "Inmates on Deathrow." Alabama Department of Corrections. February 9, 2007. Retrieved on March 3, 2011.
  19. ^ Hunter, Desiree. "Alabama death row inmate who challenged protocol dies." Associated Press at USA Today. April 23, 2008. Retrieved on March 3, 2011.
  20. ^ "Church Bombing." Associated Press at WTVY. July 23, 2004. Retrieved on March 3, 2011.
  21. ^ "Cherry." Kansas City Star. October 15, 2004. Page 5. Retrieved on March 3, 2011. Quote: "Cherry, 74, was taken from Holman Prison to Atmore Community Hospital on Wednesday, according to Brian Corbett, a spokesman for the Alabama Department of Corrections."
  22. ^ "Birmingham Bomber Bobby Frank Cherry Dies in Prison at 74 (washingtonpost.com)". www.washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2016-03-14. 
  23. ^ http://www.nbcnews.com/id/22083055/ns/msnbc-documentaries/t/lockup-holman-extended-stay/#.VuSD5NDqL7w

External links[edit]

External image
Alabama's execution chamber

Coordinates: 31°08′03″N 87°26′59″W / 31.1343°N 87.4497°W / 31.1343; -87.4497