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A 44-year-old correction officer died on September 16 at University of South Alabama Hospital in Mobile, Alabama. Kenneth Bettis of Monroeville, was stabbed on September 1 while on duty at Atmore’s William C. Correctional Facility. Bettis was stabbed while patrolling the dining hall at the facility when inmate Cleveland Cunningham retaliated against him for not allowing him to have a second food tray during lunchtime.
Cunningham, who was already serving a 20 year sentence for robbery, was initially charged with attempted murder. His charge has since been upgraded to murder.
Bettis worked for Holman since 2009 and is survived by his wife and three children. He was a combat veteran who served in Iraq with the Alabama National Guard and had received the Army Achievement Medal, Army Commendation Medal and Southwest Asia Service Medal with Bronze Star. His family was by his side when he passed. The Alabama Department of Corrections Critical Stress Management Team is providing emotional support to them to help them manage their grief.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley offered his prayers and condolences to Bettis’s family. “I want to thank Officer Bettis and his family for his years of service to the people of Alabama, through his work at Holman Correctional Facility and his time serving in the Alabama Army National Guard,” said Gov. Bentley.
According to Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn, Bettis was known for being fair but firm and was respected by his colleagues.
Holman, which has a reputation for violence, also reported the stabbing of three inmates last month and a fire started within the facility. In addition, the warden and a correction officer were both stabbed during a fight between prisoners in March. Inmates have nicknamed the facility the “Slaughterhouse” because of the numerous stabbings that have occurred there.