Mobile, AL  —  (WKRG)

The recent death of corrections officer Kenneth Bettis is prompting more people to speak out.  Bettis died Friday two weeks after being stabbed in the head by an inmate at Holman prison.  For the first time, we’re hearing directly from someone on the front lines there.  For the Governor, the halls of Holman aren’t so scary, if you have an armed escort, but for the CO’s on the front lines each day is a risk.

“The inmates are getting bolder and bolder about knives, carrying them around we will tell the administration and the administration doesn’t want to do anything about it,” said a Corrections Officer we’re calling ‘Mike.’  We agreed to hide this CO’s name, face, and voice.  He’s afraid he’ll lose his job for speaking out.

“They don’t’ care, if they cared it would be different, the administration does not care about us,” said Mike.  He says the death of Officer Bettis wasn’t an isolated incident and claims administrators have put less of a priority on snagging weapons and cell phones–sometimes ignoring contraband.

“We go tell our administration, the administration says we can’t do anything about it, just let him do what [the inmate] wants,” said Mike.  He says they need more support from the administration, a raise to State Trooper levels and just more bodies.  Mike says extra help would have put down March’s Holman riot before it got out of hand.

“We would have had enough CO’s to control the situation, we would have had enough CO’s, to shakedown,” he said.  Like a lot of CO’s he feels the inmates have more rights than the officers and fears for his life every workday.

When asked for a comment today, a DOC spokesman referred me to the statement sent Sunday which reads:

“The Alabama Department of Corrections recognizes that there has been an increase in violent incidents in state prisons over the past five years, and Holman Correctional Facility is no exception. The systemic issues throughout the department directly correlate to serious overcrowding, understaffing, and outdated facilities. Holman Correctional Facility is just one example of what the entire system faces,” said Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn.

“ADOC is taking steps to help mitigate inmate violence by fully manning the department’s Intelligence and Investigations Division, increasing facility security inspections, and prosecuting offenders to the fullest extent of the law.  As the ADOC has proposed, the Alabama Prison Transformation Initiative addresses these chronic issues of overcrowding, understaffing and outdated facilities, which will lead to safer prisons and increase public safety.