Probing the prisons | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Probing the prisons

Posted By on Thu, Jun 25, 2009 at 6:46 AM

Brummett thinks the AP exaggerated by knitting three recent prison incidents -- a fatal shooting, an abused inmate, a movie-quality escape -- into a potential indictment of the prison system. Worthy of careful review, yes. A fourth strike? Maybe then somebody should be out.

These are by no means the only three recent episodes. We reported recently, to give one example, the firing or resignation of three officers, including two captains, as a result of a tobacco sales operation using inmate peddlers. (Tobacco is forbidden in the prisons.)

I was struck, too, by the note in a recent Democrat-Gazette article that the Correction Department had fired more than 11 percent of its 2,800-person workforce in a year. These are not the world's best jobs, no doubt. This firing rate (and it doesn't reflect the churn of those who leave on their own volition) may be typical for prisons nationwide. I don't know. But it bears a look in evaluating how well the system is run. The point is that, historically, prison probes always seem to stop with those caught in misdeeds, and never extend to those who enabled them through poor hiring and supervision decisions. And we further encourage a corrupt prison culture by continuation of the emolument system of allowing employees perks from inmate toil.

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