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Arkansas Guards Indicted for Shocking Prisoners

Arkansas Guards Indicted For Shocking Prisoners

On February 7, 2001, criminal charges were filed in a federal District Court in Arkansas against 6 former guards who beat handcuffed prisoners and shocked them with a stungun and a cattle prod.

On January 7, 1998, two reportedly unruly prisoners at the Cummins Unit, an Arkansas prison, were handcuffed and taken to the prison captain's office. Lt. Kenneth C. Bell ordered them beaten and shocked with a stungun and a cattle prod on their buttocks and testicles. Sgt. Loren D. Burrer threatened to cut one prisoner with a knife. On January 24, 1998, a similar incident occurred with a third prisoner. The prisoners were not named in media reports.

An F.B.I. investigation was sparked when one prisoner formally grieved the incident. The investigation resulted in 6 federal indictments for assault. The guards indicted were Bell and Burrer, along with Charlie Wade Jr., Percy Sergeant Jr., Neica Threet, and Glen Jackson. Civil rights actions have also been filed against the guards.

Bell is now a Lincoln County sheriff's deputy. Jackson is serving 6 years for attempted murder. Burrer, Wade, and Sergeant are laborers, and Threet is a postal worker.

Dina Tyler, a spokesperson for the Department Of Corrections, admitted that the prisoners were inappropriately treated.

Such extreme force should be used only to restore order but "not for the purpose of punishing or inflicting pain," said Michael Johnson, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District Of Arkansas.

If convicted, the guards face a 10 year prison term and/or $250,000 fine for each offense.

Source: Arkansas Democrat Gazette

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