Former jail administrator pleads guilty to orchestrating inmate beat down

Former jail administrator pleads guilty to orchestrating inmate beat down

STONE COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - A former Region 8 jail administrator faces time in federal prison after pleading guilty to arranging for two inmates to beat another prisoner.

Randel Branscum, 56, a former chief deputy and jail administrator with the Stone County Sheriff's Office in Mountain View, pleaded guilty Wednesday to violating the civil rights of a prisoner.

According to the Department of Justice, Branscum instructed two other inmates to beat a prisoner then arranged for the beating to occur.

One of those inmates, Matthew McConniel, also pleaded guilty Wednesday to the same charge as Branscum. The other inmate, James Beckham, pleaded guilty to the same civil rights offense on Feb. 26.

Branscum admitted to Chief U.S. District Court Judge Brian S. Miller of the Eastern District of Arkansas that he approached the inmates in their cell and asked them to "handle" the victim.

Branscum, according to the Justice Department, then forced the victim into the men's cell and allowed the two men to beat the victim.

The inmates struck the victim repeatedly and punched his head into a windowsill, causing lacerations and other injuries.

Following the beating, Branscum admitted he gave Beckham and McConniel tobacco.

Branscum is expected to receive a sentence of 12 months and a day in federal prison.

He will be sentenced at a later date.

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