Deputy sentenced for "instructing" inmates to beat another inmate

Deputy sentenced for "instructing" inmates to beat another inmate

STONE COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - A Stone County law enforcement officer has been sentenced to one year in prison for "instructing a group of prisoners to beat another inmate and then arranging for the assault to occur", according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

According to the release, Randel Branscum, 56, of Stone County pleaded guilty. He admitted that while he was employed as a Stone County Sheriff's Department jail administrator, he told inmates to "handle" another inmate in March 2016.

The victim was beaten and suffered from multiple head injuries, the release stated.

Branscum and one of the inmates in the attack, Matthew McConniel, were both sentenced. McConniel was given probation.

"This corrections officer abused his power to order a violent assault against a prisoner," said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. "We expect and entrust corrections officers with the responsibility to care for and protect inmates in their custody. When corrections officers fail to uphold that oath, their actions corrode our justice system's fundamental values and create an environment that is more dangerous for inmates as well as officers."

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