Arkansas Department of Correction Director Wendy Kelley told lawmakers that two breakouts at the Maximum Security Unit in Tucker resulted from poor fencing of solitary pens in the recreation area, according to the Associated Press.
“The issue that has to be addressed is in the recreation pens themselves,” she told the Charitable, Penal and Correctional Institutions committee.
At around 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 7, inmates took control of a section of the Tucker Max prison, stealing keys and a Taser from guards. The inmates held three guards for several hours. They surrendered after negotiations with Randy Shores, an ADC Major correctional officer, according to emails and other records obtained by the AP (see below.)
In one email, Kelley wrote of Shores, “Yes, he did a great job!! AGAIN,” the “again” perhaps referring to another breakout in an area with solitary pens, on July 22. Two guards were assaulted in that incident.
The July 22 incident was not reported to the media until July 31, after an inquiry by the Arkansas Times. The Times also reported that three warning shots had been fired by one guard, a fact not provided to the State Police when they arrived on the scene at the prison, a spokesman said.
Prison officials said the chain link fencing in the pens in Tucker Max was deemed defective and in need of replacement at another prison operated by the department.
“We have done some targeted welding at the joints of the existing pens to reduce the risk
ADC is struggling with staff turnover and vacancies in the Tucker Max unit — 49 positions out of 208, or 23 percent, are unfilled.
Governor Hutchison said changes, including disciplinary action, could be expected.