LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A guard at a maximum security prison in Arkansas was assaulted by an inmate Thursday and taken to the hospital, the latest in a recent string of disturbances at the state's prisons that have included several inmates holding guards hostage at the same facility after snatching keys and a Taser.
The Department of Correction said the officer at the Maximum Security Unit in Tucker, 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of Little Rock, sustained multiple injuries to the face and head from the assault, and was being evaluated at an area hospital. Department spokesman Solomon Graves did not have details on the guard's condition. The department didn't name the inmate or the guard.
The Maximum Security Unit is the same facility where several inmates last month held three officers for three hours after taking their keys and a Taser before releasing them and surrendering. On July 22, a guard at Tucker Max fired three warning shots into the air after two guards and an inmate were attacked. Graves said the inmate in Thursday's attack was not involved in either of the previous disturbances.
The attack adds to a growing list of incidents at Arkansas' prisons that have prompted investigations by the Correction Department and State Police. Three inmates were injured earlier this month at the Cummins Unit in Grady after a disturbance that included prisoners breaking windows and damaging surveillance equipment. Officials are also investigating the death last month of an inmate from an assault in July at a separate facility.
State Police last month said they had more than two dozen open cases involving assault or battery by inmates on guards or fellow inmates. A State Police spokesman did not have an updated number of incidents under investigation Thursday.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said he expects disciplinary action will be taken against employees at the Maximum Security Unit after the July and August incidents, but that he still has confidence in Correction Department Director Wendy Kelley. Kelley told lawmakers last month that both incidents at Tucker Max began when inmates managed to escape solitary fenced-in areas during their recreation breaks.
The department has said it will replace the chain-link recreation areas and has taken temporary steps to strengthen the cages at the unit, along with adding more security measures during recreational periods.
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