Prison Officials Say Safety Improved In Year Since Officer’s Death

This is the sign dedicated today along Highway 21 in Atmore

Atmore, AL (WKRG) — A portion of Highway 21 in Atmore, leading to Holman Prison, has been renamed in honor of an officer who died in the line of duty last year. Kenneth Bettis drove that way to work every day until the day he died.  He died in 2016 after being attacked by an inmate.

Questions have lingered in the last year over whether enough changes have been made to make prisons safer for inmates and corrections officers. While two prison bills have languished in the legislature in the last two sessions, some say they’ve worked hard to tamp down the violence, specifically at Holman Prison.

“We have benefited from some things after this incident, safety precautions have been tightened up, we now wear stab-proof vests,” said Holman Corrections Officer Willie Harris.  “I often wonder had we had these things would Bettis have suffered the same fate?”  Bettis died in a year that was notoriously bad for the state prison system.  2016 saw at least one Holman riot make it onto social media thanks to a video posted by inmates themselves.  This prompted calls for prison reform by then-governor Robert Bentley.

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