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Thread: Arkansas Inmate Nearly Dies After Left in Feces

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    Junior Crime Reporter gladyskravits's Avatar
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    Jun 2009

    Default Arkansas Inmate Nearly Dies After Left in Feces

    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — An Arkansas prisoner nearly died after guards left him lying naked in his own feces for a weekend, and while investigating the incident corrections officials found that guards received lap dances while on the job, documents obtained by The Associated Press show.

    The prison system fired Lt. John Glasscock, who supervised guards on duty at the maximum-security Tucker Unit prison. One sergeant was fired, another was demoted and three others received written warnings, according to a report stamped "Sustained (Allegation is True)." The report said Glasscock gave false information to investigators and did substandard work "resulting in injury and/or property damage."

    The disclosure of the inmate's near death comes after two convicted murderers escaped a different state prison by wearing guard uniforms and officers at the Tucker Unit fatally shot a man who officials said fled from a contraband checkpoint.

    Combined, the incidents raise new questions about a troubled state prison system described by a federal judge 40 years ago as a "dark and evil world."

    Prisons spokeswoman Dina Tyler described the inmate's death as unprecedented. "I think what you've got here is a case of a couple of officers who were not doing their jobs up to their standards and we took appropriate action," Tyler said Monday.

    The internal affairs report, obtained by the AP through a state Freedom of Information Act request, said guards discovered the inmate Jan. 19 after he had smeared waste over his body and played with it.

    James Gibson, an internal affairs investigator for the state prison system, wrote in the report that no one on the night or day shifts did anything to clean up the inmate, whose name was redacted, or his cell from during that weekend.

    "In fact, food trays were put in there on the bars for him to eat," Gibson wrote.

    By Feb. 10, the inmate was on life support at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences hospital in Little Rock after suffering through septicemia and septic shock, conditions which send virulent microorganisms from an infection into the blood stream, the report shows.

    Warden David White fired another sergeant involved, Bobby Lunsford, on Feb. 11. The sergeant told investigators he informed another supervisor about the inmate, but that person wasn't working at the time Lunsford was there, the report shows. A telephone number for Lunsford could not be found Monday, and Gibson wrote in his report that Lunsford did not return messages left for him on a cellular phone.

    By Feb. 20, an unnamed sergeant told investigators that Glasscock spent "hours" with female officers in a prison office and that a nurse performed a nighttime lap dance on Glasscock within the sight of several inmates, according to the report. That sergeant also apparently received a lap dance.

    The report also claimed a sergeant told investigators that inmates would be brought in to cook for the night shift officers.

    Glasscock denied the allegations against him, though he acknowledged he "messed up" by not doing rounds at the facility, the report shows.

    Records show Glasscock joined the prison system as a guard in November 1996, and never was demoted or had a disciplinary infraction previously, officials said. A telephone number listed in Glasscock's name rang unanswered Monday.

    The maximum-security unit at Tucker, 30 miles southeast of Little Rock, has 532 inmates. About 100 serve as workers and live in a barrack-style dormitory, said Tyler, the prison spokeswoman.

    The inmate who was hospitalized is now at the prison system's Diagnostic Unit in Pine Bluff. Tyler said he had violated prison rules several times, including a few violent incidents.

    The Arkansas prison system, now nationally accredited, has a troubled past. It was declared unconstitutional four decades ago by U.S. District Judge J. Smith Henley. Back then, trusted inmates would be armed and police other incarcerated inmates. State police reports documented inmates living under brutal conditions.

    In 2007, officials fired guards at the East Arkansas Regional Unit at Brickeys for using excessive force against inmates. In May, convicted murderers Calvin Adams and Jeffrey Grinder escaped the Cummins Unit wearing guard uniforms made at the prison. Police caught them in upstate New York, where officers found them with badges that looked like staff identification.

    And last Saturday, a guard at Tucker fatally shot a Heber Springs man wanted for failing to report to his parole officer. Tyler said at the time the man crashed his car into the assistant warden's car and came "very close to the officers" before being shot.

    Tyler said the department constantly trains its staff and cautioned against making connections between "three totally unrelated incidents."

    Lawmakers have scheduled a meeting with prison director Larry Norris in the coming weeks to discuss the recent prison escape. Matt DeCample, a spokesman for Gov. Mike Beebe, said the governor continued to support Norris' work at the department.

    "When things have gone wrong, action has been taken and that's very important to us," DeCample said. "If things were going wrong and no one seemed to be taking no action to fix it, that's where we'd be greatly concerned."

    Arkansas Inmate Nearly Dies After Left in Feces

    Last edited by LUCKY13; 06-25-2009 at 12:55 PM. Reason: Closing open url and editing out html

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  2. #2
    Junior Crime Reporter gladyskravits's Avatar
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    Jun 2009

    Default Arkansas Prison Troubles Echo Problems of the Past

    Recent misconduct allegations in Arkansas state prisons worry some of return to dark past
    By JON GAMBRELL Associated Press Writer
    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. June 25, 2009 (AP)

    FILE -This April 23, 2003 file photo shows the interior of the Arkansas Department of Correction...

    Inmates carrying sawed-off shotguns once patrolled the grounds of Arkansas state prisons, keeping other prisoners in line with fear and intimidation. The few guards kept order with 5-foot-long leather straps and a device that sent an electric charge through an offender's toe and genitals.

    Forty years ago, a federal judge declared Arkansas' prisons an unconstitutional "dark and evil world," and it took more than a decade for the system to break free of federal supervision. But a spate of recent allegations — including an inmate left naked and covered in his own feces for days who nearly died — have state officials studying a past they had hoped was behind them.

    "We've got to stay on top of it because we don't want to get back into federal court on this one," said state Sen. Bobby Glover, who heads a panel overseeing the prison system. "We don't want our prison system being held unconstitutional."

    No state official compares the prison system of today to what it once was. But in the past several months, several misconduct allegations have surfaced behind the gates. Investigators say guards at one facility received lap dances from a nurse while on the job. Two convicted murderers escaped by wearing handmade guard uniforms. Guards shot and killed a man who officials said had fled a contraband checkpoint.

    Gov. Mike Beebe said he won't call for state prisons chief Larry Norris to be fired because he believes problems in Arkansas are similar to those in other states. Norris joined the state prison system in 1971 and became director in 1993. Beebe said through a spokesman that he has "full faith" in his ability to run the 15,000-inmate system.

    The tortured past of Arkansas' prisons dates to the early 20th century. In 1933, the state closed its penitentiary in Little Rock and moved all the prisoners to the Cummins and Tucker prison farms, where privileged inmates guarded the others.

    For the next 30 years, inmates died from killings and disease as gambling, alcohol and rape permeated the farms. Some prisoners reported being beaten at random by their inmate guards, while food — no matter how poor — remained in short supply.

    One inmate often ate "cornbread and molasses for breakfast and a bowl of peas for lunch, and had had to 'skim the worms off of the top of the bowl before eating them,'" an Arkansas State Police report said.

    By 1966, then-Gov. Orval Faubus ordered state police to investigate allegations of extortion, misuse of state property and inmate drunkenness. Severe riots broke out at Cummins. Two years later, human skeletons found at Cummins were alleged to have come from inmates beaten to death and secretly buried there.

    "We have probably the most barbaric prison system in the United States," then-Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller said.

    Bob Scott, Rockefeller's prison liaison, said the governor realized how bad the system had become during a visit to Cummins, when his bodyguard had to give up his pistol to a murderer he arrested 10 years earlier.

    "You can control anything with fear," said Scott, now 75. "The attitude in Arkansas at the time was 'out of sight, out of mind — just don't bother us with the details.'"

    U.S. District Judge J. Smith Henley took the first step toward reform in 1965, when he ordered guards to stop using corporal punishment. In 1969, he found portions of the state prison system unconstitutional, setting up his historic 1970 decision to put the entire state prison system under federal control — a first for the nation.

    The prisons added school classes, increased the number of guards and improved facilities before coming out from underneath federal supervision in 13 years. Still, problems inside the prisons have persisted.

    In 1995, state police revealed that a smuggling ring had brought drugs, weapons and alcohol onto death row. That same year, a federal judge ordered prison officials to place more guards at Cummins after an lawsuit claimed the state had violated inmates' rights by failing to adequately protect them from fellow prisoners.

    An inmate escaped from Cummins in 1999 and killed a farmer and later another man in a traffic crash. A federal grand jury indicted former prison guards in 2001 for allegedly shocking three inmates on the testicles and elsewhere when they were disruptive.

    In 2003, a Justice Department report said officials at two state prisons at Newport were "deliberately indifferent" to prison conditions and inmates with serious medical problems. In one case, an inmate who complained of chest pains after open-heart surgery "was given Tylenol and sent back to his housing unit."

    Problems continued into 2007. Prison guards were fired for using excessive force against inmates, and other employees lost their jobs or resigned over a probe into bootleg computers that inmates at Tucker had built to watch pornographic films.

    Scott said state prisons today are better than those four decades ago but likely still lag behind others in the nation.

    "Anytime you have men cooped up like animals, you're going to have problems," Scott said. "What taxpayers need to face up to is that prisons ought to be designed to make a person better having been there, not worse. The way they're designed now, it's very unusual for someone to come out better."

    Arkansas Prison Troubles Echo Problems of the Past - ABC

    Last edited by LUCKY13; 06-25-2009 at 12:57 PM. Reason: Closing open url editing out html

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