The Arkansas Department of Corrections ("DOC"), or as they were rebranded to during the administration of former governor Asa Hutchinson...the Division of Correction ("DOC" too), has a shady past.
Back in 1969, a book Accomplices to the Crime: The Arkansas Prison Scandal, written by former Arkansas prison warden Thomas Murton, exposed violence and corruption at Tucker State and Cummins State Prison Farms and detailed the discovery of unmarked graves of prisoners killed in the prisons.
Much of the squalid conditions, violence and corruption depicted in the film was the subject of a 1970 federal court case, Holt v. Sarver, in which the federal court ruled that Arkansas' prison system violated inmates' constitutional rights, and ordered reform.
There have been other scandals involving prisons in Arkansas too numerous to go into at this time.
DOC employees get fired for all type of wrongdoings all the time too.
From bringing contraband into prisons, having sex with inmates or aiding in their escape.
In 2018 the Arkansas Times published a story about DOC not being able to retain guards with more than a third of new hires quitting in spite of a bump in pay.
Former DOC employees told the Arkansas Times that the culture within the department was the problem. Former guards told the Arkansas Times they’re not surprised that a pay raise didn’t help retain guards. They also said that the department should’ve been focusing on employee wellness sooner.
That 2018 article stated that thirty-eight percent of the correctional officers hired by the Arkansas Department of Correction in 2017 had left the department. Whether the 313 guards quit or were fired is unknown; the DOC does not differentiate the reason for dismissal in aggregated data.
The department hired a total of 819 new officers in 2017. The high turnover rate for new guards continued, despite a July pay raise that was aimed at shoring up vacancies. The pay raise seemed to have an impact. In July, the DOC hired 183 new staffers, far more than any other month last year. But it did not last. On average, 35 more employees left the department than were hired from August to December per month in 2017.By December 2017, the department had 712 vacancies, more than at any other point the previous year.
|A sign near the Cummins and Varner Units pitches a $22.13 hourly rate|
Part of that "employee wellness" is having to deal with a culture that supports racism.
Here's an example that is going viral on social media. Adam Clark, a deputy warden with DOC sent this message to a former employee. Clark is white and the former employee is Black.
We saw the post made by that former Black employee on Facebook and shared it.
At the time this story published, this is how effective our post has been on Facebook.
Former co-workers have also reached out to us sharing information about Clark's racial behavior patterns.
We have sent a Freedom of
Information request to DOC for a copy of Clark's personnel file and
records regarding any and all complaints filed about him.
Stay tuned for an update.