Social media posts by Arkansas Department of Correction employees -- including captions that make reference to solitary confinement and sexual conduct with inmates -- have drawn the attention of prison officials, a spokesman said last week.
The posts were made to a private Facebook group, Correctional Officers Life, which lists more than 30,000 members across the country. Some of those members, however, have drawn outside scrutiny to the group in recent weeks with posts that play along with a nationwide trend of people posting "selfies" of themselves, often in work uniforms.
Some of the posts were innocuous -- "selfie" photos of officers on the job -- while a few drew attention because the treatment of prisoners was mentioned.
Screenshots of several posts were sent to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in an anonymous email.
"Feeling cute, might take your girl to seg later, idk," read the caption on one post in April, referring to segregation housing, more commonly known as solitary confinement. The abbreviation "idk" stands for "I don't know."
The man who posted the photo appeared in it wearing an Arkansas prison guard uniform, and the name on his social media profile matches that of a corporal at the Department of Correction.
In another photo posted to the Facebook group on Dec. 31, two women appear smiling at the camera in what appear to be Arkansas prison employee uniforms. A caption on the photo reads: "Feeling cute. Those inmates wish they could have both of us meow."
The woman who posted the photo indicated on her Facebook page that she works at the department's Tucker Unit in Jefferson County.
Prison spokesman Solomon Graves said the department became aware about two weeks ago of staff members participating in what has become known as the "#FeelingCute" social media challenge, and employees were immediately told to stop. Referring to inmates as part of the posts is a violation of the department's social media policy, Graves said.
"Participation in the challenge, with a reference to an inmate(s), is not reflective of our expectations as a professional correctional organization, nor does it demonstrate a commitment to our mission," Graves said in an email. "Staff participating in the challenge are subject to disciplinary action up to, and including, termination."
Graves said no one was terminated because of the posts.
Neither of the users who posted the photos responded to requests for comment.
In a third instance in Arkansas, a woman posted a photo to the correctional officer group's Facebook page wearing a uniform that appears to have a badge featuring the insignia of the Miller County sheriff's office. The caption reads, "Feeling cute........ might lock their asses down today I dont know."
A screenshot of that image was sent to the newspaper, and also was posted to the Miller County jail's Facebook page by a user who flagged it as "unprofessional."
Miller County Sheriff Jackie Runion said he was unaware of the post when asked about it Friday. After speaking with his jail captain, Runion said the captain "talked to that young lady. It was taken down."
Runion said the woman still worked for his office. The Facebook profile from which she made the post to the group's page appeared to have been taken down.
Similar posts by corrections officers have drawn the attention of prison officials in North Carolina, Texas, Georgia and Oklahoma, according to news reports.
At the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the Houston Chronicle reported, four corrections officers were fired and two resigned after an investigation into a "string" of posts. Two of those posts mentioned using "gas" on inmates.
"It's obviously inappropriate," said state Sen. Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock, the former chairman of a legislative subcommittee that oversees the Department of Correction. "I would like to think that this is not the kind of judgment that spills over into their ability to do their jobs."
Elliott, who sponsored an unsuccessful bill during the recently completed legislative session for an outside audit of the Department of Correction, added, "These are the kinds of things and attitudes ... that I really wanted to tease out."
The prison agency has struggled in recent years to recruit and retain corrections officers. The department has dealt with a string of assaults on staff members by inmates and the flow of illicit drugs into prisons.
In April, the department reported 500 vacancies out of 4,586 authorized positions for corrections officers.
Metro on 05/05/2019
Print Headline: 'Feeling cute' posts by Arkansas corrections officers get noticed by prisons officials