Gov. Mike Beebe today said -- in an interview -- that he wants a full investigation of recent revelations about multiple failures in state prison practices, including the near-death of an inmate. No, the governor isn't ready to offer any criticism of one of the most powerful men in Arkansas, prison director Larry Norris. (In fact, he makes it clear he has "full faith" in Norris, though nobody has studied whether Norris deserves it or not. But Norris has been around as long as Beebe, has as many or more friends and more people depend on the significant dollars his huge inmate industry demonstrates. So ... Beebe ain't about to cross him.)
UPDATE: Please understand that the governor is NOT calling for an independent investigation. He just wants the ongoing prison reviews to be thorough. The governor was just giving an ingratiating response to a reporter for the news organization, the AP, which reported the awful details of the sick inmate. Count on the usual self-inspection and the usual alibis -- crowded prisons, insufficient funding, isolated bad apples, etc. Apologists will also say it is unfair to roundup the multiple recent prison disasters and attempt to draw a larger conclusion about prison management from them. They're wrong.
For example: How does a deadbeat officer get to a high rank while lap dancing, dining in the prison kitchen and ignoring sick inmates nearly to the point of death? Do you think it was any secret he wasn't a stickler for doing his job? Might this case suggest shortcomings in HIS supervsion? I'd say it does. The same for wholesale dereliction that set killers free. And many more. I'd say there have been enough lapses at enough levels in enough prison units to at least consider that there might be better ways to do what the prison system is doing. Doesn't sound like Gov. Beebe is much interested in that sort of review. But be assured, he is deeply concerned. Sort of like kids' mental health. He's really concerned. Enough to really do anything meaningful in changing the system? To tell us what happened to the four kids who died in state care last year? No, not THAT concerned.
UPDATE II: If the story interests you, you also might be interested in an update to an earlier item about the Democrat-Gazette's decision not to use AP reporting on the inmate mistreatment. Short answer: They'd covered the story already. Long answer: They didn't, really. They are about as concerned as Beebe is in prison practices. A few paragraphs worth. Who cares what happens to inmates, really? They're not really humans.
UPDATE: III: Beebe mush on the jump.
LITTLE ROCK – Governor Mike Beebe has not called for a new investigation or probe into incidents at the Arkansas Department of Correction. Thorough investigations into the incidents that occurred at the Cummins and Tucker Units in the past six months are either ongoing or complete. In the appropriate cases, the Arkansas State Police is conducting criminal investigations side-by-side with the Department of Correction’s internal investigations, according to established protocol. When these investigations are complete and the results known, Governor Beebe will determine whether additional action is necessary. The Governor believes that upon completion, these investigations should be aired fully with the appropriate legislative committees.