UPDATED: Plea deal for Wright | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

UPDATED: Plea deal for Wright

Posted By on Wed, Apr 7, 2010 at 1:03 PM

Arkansas News Bureau is reporting that former Clinton aide Betsey Wright, who is accused of smuggling contraband material into a prison, will accept a plea deal from prosecutors this afternoon. We'll have more as the story develops. Max wrote extensively on this when news of the charges against Wright broke in August.


Betsy Wright today changed her not guilty plea to charges of smuggling contraband into a state prison to no contest to two misdemeanor charges of possession of an instrument of crime. She was sentenced in 11th Circuit Judge Jodi Dennis' court to 12 months probation on each charge, to run concurrently, fined $2,000 and was prohibited from visiting the state Department of Correction or an inmate of the ADC without the department's approval.

Wright's statement, issued to the Times, is on the jump.


April 7, 2010
Statement by Betsey Wright

On May 22, 2009, I arrived at the entrance to the Varner Unit where I had an
appointment to visit an inmate.  In the clear plastic bag of items I
submitted for inspection was my key chain.  I had forgotten to remove my
small pocket knife  and craft knife from the key chain.

I had previously made between 150 and 200 visits there, and this same
oversight had occurred on a few other occasions.  Sometimes when I arrived
at the prison, all I focused on was quickly getting to the ladies room just
inside the entrance door. This resulted in occasionally collecting things too quickly and without enough attention.  In most of the instances when I had overlooked the items on my keychain, the security officer also overlooked them, and the items entered and left the prison on my key chain.  On the occasions where the security officer noticed the items, I was either allowed to return them to my car, or the officer kept the key chain for my retrieval on leaving the prison.

Ironically, several times I suggested to wardens and assistant wardens at
Varner, and to the director of ADC, that the key chain procedure we followed
when visiting the Maximum Security Unit at Tucker be implemented at
Varner.  At "Tucker Max," the key chains of all visitors were deposited
with the security officer upon arrival and retrieved upon leaving the
prison.  Therefore, it made little difference what was on the key chains.

I am gratified that the prosecuting attorney has agreed to drop all charges
involving the tattoo needles.  I have said all along, and reiterate here,
that I did not realize that the needles were in a bag of chips I got from
the basin of the vending machine.  I thought I had a free bag of chips.
Instead, I inadvertently intercepted a smuggling operation by some other, unknown, person. I would also mention that I do not approve of tattooing.

On May 22, 2009, the pocket knife and craft knife were taken into the prison
entrance building  because of my carelessness.   I have decided to plead no
contest to these reduced misdemeanor charges because, although I know that I
had no criminal intent, I realize that a jury might decide the matter differently.


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