Arkansas Prison Guard Axed After Inmate Nearly Died in Feces Had Been Fired Before

 LITTLE ROCK, Ark.  —  An Arkansas prison guard fired over the near death of an inmate left naked in his own feces for a weekend had been previously fired.

A termination letter obtained by The Associated Press shows that Sgt. Bobby Lunsford lost his job in February 2002 after apparently accepting Hot Pockets an inmate stole from a prison chaplain. The prison system later rehired Lunsford.

Lunsford was fired again this year after an internal investigation showed an inmate nearly died of septic shock after being left naked and covered in his own feces.

The termination letter highlights one of the Arkansas prison system’s biggest problems: It has a 32 percent turnover rate and struggles to find qualified and competent guards to patrol its 20 facilities.


Ex-jail deputy gets prison for smuggling drugs in tacos

TEXARKANA, Ark — A former jail guard in Arkansas has been sentenced to 28 years in prison for sneaking syringes, marijuana and cell phones to inmates by hiding the items in food.

Deputies say 26-year-old Jordan Michael Waller carried tacos, pizzas and chili to work at the Miller County jail. He used the food to hide a stash of cell phones and chargers, methamphetamine, marijuana, tobacco and cigarette rolling papers

Family members testified Waller had paranoid schizophrenia that manageable with medication. Jail officials denied knowing of Waller’s illness. He was sentenced Thursday in Texarkana.

The long-troubled jail had 13 escapes last year. A number of guards were fired, and some faced criminal charges for improper conduct with inmates.


Deputy fired, charged with raping inmate

A Pulaski County sheriff’s office deputy was fired and charged with the rape of an inmate inside a basement holding cell at the county courthouse after the inmate produced a DNA sample she kept on the inside of her bra, sheriff’s office documents obtained Friday show.

Willie Lee Owens, 39, of Conway, had been a Pulaski County deputy for more than three years when on Dec. 18 he told a 26-yearold female inmate she might be needed back in court after a hearing during which she received three years’ probation after pleading guilty to criminal attempt to obtain prescription drugs by fraud, the records show. When another deputy arrived to pick up inmates who were supposed to return to the Pulaski County jail, Owens told the deputy to leave her behind, the records said. Continue reading

Guards cited on sex with inmates, fired

TEXARKANA — Two former Miller County jail guards have been charged after allegations were made that they had sexual relations with inmates.

The sheriff’s office says the two men were fired after they were accused of having sex with female jail inmates.

Bail was set at $ 10, 000 each for Haris Williams, 24, and Wayne Walker, 29, during Friday hearings before District Judge Wren Autrey.

Each man was freed after posting bond.

Both pretrial hearings are set for Dec. 18 before Circuit Judge Joe Griffin.

Walker and Williams are charged with third-degree sexual assault.

The charge carries a possible penalty of three to 10 years in jail and a fine of up to $ 10, 000.

The former guards are accused of having sex with two female inmates, ages 22 and 29.

“They were terminated,” investigator Jesse Grigsby said of the jailers.

Miller County jail warden Janice Nicholson said that when she became aware of the allegations, she immediately contacted investigators.

Also, interim Sheriff Don Thornell contacted the Arkansas State Police.

“We wanted an outside agency to conduct the investigation,” Thornell said.


Deputies to interview Miller County jail guards

TEXARKANA, Ark. — Miller County jail guards on duty the night six men escaped will be interviewed by deputies trying to find out how a hacksaw was smuggled into the facility, officials said Thursday.

Chief Deputy Tommy Hollin told the Texarkana Gazette newspaper that officials believe a guard snuck the hacksaw inside at the request of inmates. Hollin said guards also conducted a shakedown at the troubled jail Thursday, but declined to say what officers found.

Thursday, workers continued installing expanded metal grating over the jail’s windows to stop inmates from escaping. Hollin said workers also began installing new security cameras on higher mounts throughout the jail. Older cameras had become targets for inmates using broomsticks or blankets to disable them.

Hollin said the new cameras will be encased in tough glass and can be rotated to show several views.

“If you shot it with a .45, you couldn’t bust the glass on it,” the chief deputy said.

Hollin said about half the surveillance cameras in the jail don’t work, and that the Miller County Quorum Court is reluctant to approve bids to install new security equipment because a new sheriff, Ron Stovall, is to take office Jan. 1.

“This is an emergency,” Hollin said. “You don’t need to get bids to take care of an emergency.”

Deputies said two inmates remained missing Thursday afternoon: Bennie Ray Johnson, 23, of Bradley, Ark., who faces charges of aggravated robbery and second-degree battery; and Anthony Michael Brown, 30, of Texarkana, Texas, who faces charges of theft, burglary and failure to appear in court.

Deputies on Wednesday captured escapees Jeffrey Dean Smith, 36, of Texarkana, Texas; Codarrius Morris, 20, of Texarkana, Ark.; and Kenneth Dewayne Riley, 40, of Wilton, Ark., who faces an 80-year prison sentence for an aggravated robbery conviction as a habitual offender.

Victor Threadgill also escaped Tuesday but was caught in the jail yard, authorities said. Threadgill recently pleaded guilty to murdering an Ashdown car salesman and is awaiting transfer to a state prison.

The four captured inmates appeared before a judge Thursday. Miller County Circuit Judge Jim Hudson set bail for the men at $200,000 apiece.


Jail guard accused of smuggling drugs under chili, syringes inside tacos

TEXARKANA, Arkansas: A corrections officer who had been making frequent takeout food deliveries to the county jail was caught sneaking syringes inside tacos and marijuana under chili, authorities said.

Jordan Michael Waller, 25, tried to enter the Miller County jail with three pizzas at 3 a.m. Saturday, said Mike Liles, a county investigator. Twenty minutes later, Waller brought in what appeared to be a large bag containing chili and tacos, Liles said.

A jail sergeant became suspicious, searched the food and found marijuana that had been formed into three round patties under some chili and a couple of syringes inside tacos.

Waller was searched and found to also be carrying methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia, Liles said.

Waller was charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, possession of drug paraphernalia and furnishing prohibited items into a correctional facility.

Waller, who had worked at the lockup for two months, was in custody Tuesday. His bond was set at $100,000 (€64,000).

The public defender’s office said its attorneys had yet to talk to Waller, whose next court appearance is scheduled for June 17.


Administrator of jail fired

While he will not be charged with a crime, Capt. Terry Rea’s tenure as jail administrator for the Crawford County Detention Center is finished. Quorum court budget committee members unanimously approved a $5,688 lump-sum payout to Rea for accrued holiday and vacation time during Monday night’s meeting.

Later, during a personnel committee meeting, justices of the peace also approved the hiring of four new deputies for the sheriff’s department. The positions must now be approved during the quorum court’s regular meeting later this month.

Prosecuting Attorney Marc McCune sent an e-mail to the Press-Argus Courier Tuesday afternoon announcing that materials from an Arkansas State Police investigation into possible sexual misconduct by Rea had been turned over to him for examination.

After reviewing the reports, I am declining to file any charges against Terry Rea,” the e-mail states. “I do not believe that I could meet the burden of beyond a reasonable doubt on charges filed against Terry Rea. I believe that this matter may be more appropriately pursued in a civil proceeding rather than a criminal proceeding.”

State police launched the investigation into Rea in February, following an allegation by a former female employee. On Monday morning, Chief Deputy Ron Brown said Rea’s employment was terminated March 20.

Brown said Rea was terminated for “violation of policy, departmental policy,” but declined to elaborate.

When reached on his mobile phone Tuesday afternoon, Brown said he was unaware of McCune’s decision and had not seen the e-mail.

An attempt to reach Sheriff Mike Allen by phone Tuesday afternoon was unsuccessful.

After Monday night’s meeting, Allen said Jeff Marvin, a reserve sheriff’s deputy, had been appointed as Rea’s permanent replacement for the jail administrator position. He said Marvin has “several years” experience in law enforcement, including service as a reserve officer for four area agencies, among them the Alma and Mulberry police departments. He’s also served as a member of the county SWAT team, Allen said.

Rea had been involved in law enforcement for 24 years, according to Allen, who declined comment on the investigation Monday night.

On Tuesday, Corey Mendenhall, a special agent with the state police who investigated Rea, said he turned his report in to McCune on Monday but had not yet seen McCune’s statement announcing his decision. He declined to comment on the prosecuting attorney’s decision.

At the start of Monday’s personnel committee meeting, Allen initially requested funding to hire four deputies and three detention officers, spurring debate among the JPs over just how many new employees could be hired without severely depleting the county general fund for the rest of the year.

The cost of hiring seven new employees, plus uniforms, equipment and four squad cars would have amounted to $327,099 for the rest of 2008. Allen said new employees were necessary to keep the sheriff’s office running smoothy.

“I can’t have pro-active law enforcement with the numbers we have now,” Allen said.

JP Sharon Partain said that compared to other Arkansas counties with comparable populations, Crawford County is “very much understaffed.”

However, JP Elaina Damante said if the committee approved the money, the county general fund would have only $140,000 remaining for the rest of the year. County Judge John Hall also reminded the JPs to be careful with spending, noting the ever-increasing cost of fuel.

“Anything we can get would be appreciated,” Allen told the committee. “. … This (request) is a bare minimum.”

Damante said she agreed that the sheriff’s office needed additional help, but didn’t think the quorum court had enough money to grant the sheriff seven new employees. “If this had to be reduced, what would be Plan B?” she asked.

Allen said that getting deputies hired would take priority over detention officers. After a little more discussion, justices voted to hire four new deputies at a total cost of $267,877 for a year, with funding for two positions to be taken from county general funds and funding for the other two taken from the county’s public safety money. That comes to a cost of about $233,000 for the rest of 2008 if all four deputies are hired in April.

Public safety funds are generated from sales tax revenue, which Hall warned could decline like the rest of the economy.

However, Partain noted that Crawford County already depends on sales tax revenues to pay some salaries, and if those go down, “We’re all going down on the same boat.”

The vote was 11-0, with JPs Don Jenkins and Delia Friddle absent. If approved at the regular quorum court meeting, the hires will be the first for the sheriff’s office in eight years. Allen said three deputies will likely be assigned to patrol while the fourth will work in the criminal investigations division.

In a phone interview Tuesday morning, Hall emphasized his support for the sheriff’s office but said he would prefer the quorum court allow for the hiring of two deputies rather than four, with money for one position coming out of the general revenue fund and the other out of public safety. He said more employees could possibly be hired next year, depending on the county’s financial situation.

“I am going to relate that to the quorum court; they can take it for whatever it’s worth,” Hall said. “. …That’s a conservative way to look at it, but we need to be conservative with what money we’ve got.”