ADC Director discusses issues with prison system with legislative committee

ADC Director discusses issues with prison system with legislative committee
Arkansas Department of Correction director Wendy Kelley spoke Thursday to a legislative committee about the department and issues dealing with contraband and staffing. (Source: KATV-TV)

LITTLE ROCK, AR (KAIT/KATV) - The Arkansas Department of Correction is working to correct issues dealing with contraband and staffing concerns, the prison system's director told a legislative committee Thursday as family members of people who have died in prison say something must be done.

According to a report from Little Rock television station KATV, Wendy Kelley spoke to the Correctional Institutions Legislative Subcommittee for about 10 minutes Thursday on the issues.

Officials have said several instances happened at state prisons last year, with Kelley saying that the prison system's major issue is staffing.

The department has about 300 openings right now,  Kelley told the committee, down from about 570 that were there at one point. The department also has about 100 or so recruits who are set to begin training.

As for contraband, Kelley said the department is working to stop illegal items from coming into the prisons, KATV reported.

There have been about 600 cell phones confiscated this year from state inmates, down from the 1,500 taken in 2017.

Kelley told the committee that officials are also working to stop K2 from entering the prisons, including using cameras, body scanners and a new inmate correspondence policy, KATV reported.

"Our incidents averaged in 2017 - 95 a month - where we located or found someone to be under the influence of K2," Kelley told the committee. "They're at 63 a month so far in 2018."

However, Sharon Benton of North Little Rock, who said her son died from a K2 overdose in prison, said officials were neglectful in helping her son by denying him medical care.

"There was another inmate actually giving him CPR versus the workers there giving him medical attention," Benton told KATV, saying it took almost 40 minutes for paramedics to get there.

Others who attended the meeting also questioned ADC officials on medical care for prisoners, KATV reported.

Copyright 2018 KAIT. All rights reserved.