Prison System Fires Two Lieutenants in Separate Incidents; Captain Demoted

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The state Correction Department says two lieutenants in the prison system were fired over separate incidents, and a captain supervising one of the men has been demoted.

In one incident on December 30 at the Varner Supermax Unit, five inmates who were kept from the general prison population began breaking lights and glass in their cells.

The department says that to end the vandalism, Lt. Cleion Carroll used a large-volume pepper spray device known as as "detonator" to saturate the area.

Correction Department spokeswoman Dina Tyler says Carroll used too much of the spray.  Carroll was fired.  His supervisor, Captain Jimmy Via, was demoted to sergeant.

In a separate incident on December 10, the department fired a lieutenant after he went into a cell by himself.  After he left, the inmate had a bruised cheek, which the inmate said was caused by an assault by the officer.

Tyler says Lt. Samuel Baker entered the cell after the inmate threatened to throw feces at a nurse.

The department did not identify the inmates.

Tyler said information on the incidents will be sent to the FBI.  She said the paperwork had been pushed to the side, causing a delay.  She said the department had been engrossed in investigating a case in which contraband computers were smuggled into the system and in which inmate transfers at the Tucker Unit were allegedly sold.

That probe resulted in eleven employees either quitting or being fired.

A spokesman with the FBI's Little Rock office says the bureau did not know about the pepper spray and alleged assault incidents until being told this week by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)