ATMORE, Ala. — An Alabama corrections officer died Friday after being stabbed by an inmate earlier this month at a state prison that has been beset by multiple incidents of violence, authorities said.
Corrections Officer Kenneth Bettis, 44, of Monroeville, died after succumbing to his injuries, according to a statement from the Alabama Department of Corrections. Bettis was stabbed by an inmate Sept. 1 at William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore.
“On behalf of the Alabama Department of Corrections, I extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the Bettis’ family … Officer Bettis was known among his colleagues as a firm, but fair corrections officer, and was highly respected for his work ethic and dedicated service to his profession,” Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn said in a statement.
Prison officials reported that an inmate stabbed Bettis in retaliation for being denied an extra lunch tray.
Cleveland Cunningham, an inmate serving a 20-year sentence for robbery, had been previously charged with attempted murder for the stabbing. Dunn said he expected the charges to be upgraded.
It wasn’t immediately known if the inmate had an attorney.
Bettis had worked as an officer at Holman since 2009. The prison system said Bettis was a military veteran and had served on active duty in Iraq with the Alabama Army National Guard. Bettis is survived by his wife and three children.
Holman prison has been the site of multiple outbreaks of violence. Located in southwest Alabama, the maximum-security prison houses Alabama’s death chamber and is badly overcrowded.
Inmates stabbed and injured the warden, set fires and seized control of dormitory during a March uprising.
The prison was placed on lockdown again in August after officials said inmates in one of the dormitories “became aggressive” toward the guards. Officers secured the door of the housing area, and some inmates inside started a fire inside.
A Department of Corrections report shows Holman was designed to hold 581 inmates but housed 804 inmates at the end of May, the last month for which statistics were available.