Tuesday, September 30, 2014

TOP STORY >> Killer in Cabot’s schools 3 times

Leader editor-in-chief

Glen Martin Green, the killer serving a life sentence without parole, worked in Cabot schools three different times this year.

We first reported on Sept. 20 that Green had worked in the Cabot Junior High North gym on Sept. 16. He was installing wall mats in the gym during school hours.

We asked the Department of Correction this week for Green’s work assignments outside prison in the last 12 months. It turns out he also worked at Cabot High School gym on Jan. 15 and Jan. 21 with Stanley Stokes, who is in prison for aggravated robbery.

Green installed gym mats in more than 50 schools and two churches around the state since September 2013. He was scheduled to work in the Searcy School District on Sept. 22, but, because of our report, his pass was rescinded that day after the Arkansas Department of Correction Board changed its policy on letting killers work in schools.

The prison board met twice last week and agreed that murderers do not belong on school campuses.

Cabot Superintendent Tony Thurman said last week he would not allow prison labor in his district after learning from this reporter that Green had been working in the school district and was told Green was a murderer serving life without parole.

Green, a longtime trusty in the prison’s work-release program, had killed a teenager in 1974.

Thurman said he found out Friday that Green went to the high school gym on Jan. 15 with pads that were the wrong size.

Green “came back Jan. 21 with correct pads and completed installation. No students were present,” Thurman said.

The district had been buying gym mats from Arkansas Correctional Industries for $1,700 apiece. Thurman said the mats have to be replaced often because they get worn out fast. He said he will find a different vendor for the sports equipment.

“They start to wear out after people run into them,” Thurman said. “We’re done with ACI.”

ACI will keep sending violent felons to school districts that do not ban prison labor, the head of the prison board told us this week. But Green has been permanently barred from the program.

Benny Magness, the chairman of the Arkansas Department of Correction Board, told us Monday that violent criminals will keep working in schools except where superintendents ban all prison labor. He said armed robbers could work in schools.

“We always try to keep them away from kids,” Magness assured us.

He pointed out that no children have been harmed, although occasionally trusties do escape while in the work-release program, including a convicted killer who was captured after a summer on the run.

Asked if school districts could pick up items they buy from Arkansas Correctional Industries, Magness insisted, “ACI can’t exist without prison labor.”

He said trusties could work more when children are not in school, especially during the summer, in the evenings and on weekends.

Magness agreed that superintendents should know when inmates are going to their schools, but he didn’t think it was necessary to inform parents and prosecutors when prisoners are working in schools.

He said trusties in work-release programs have a better record than parolees, who often go on to commit violent crimes.

Arron M. Lewis, who is charged with murdering realtor Beverly Carter, has a long history of violence in several states.

He was not part of a work-release program, although he did apply for a job at The Leader a couple of weeks ago but never turned in his application after admitting he was a felon.

Maurice Clemmons, who was paroled in 2004 when Mike Huckabee was governor, five years later killed four police officers in Tacoma, Wash.

Green has worked for more than 20 years at Arkansas Correctional Indus-tries, which installs furniture and equipment around the state. His specialty for the last 17 years has been installing gym mats.

Arkansas Correctional Industries makes athletic equipment, furniture, clothes, toilet paper, janitorial supplies, vinyl products and signs in schools, military installations, state offices and churches.

ACI also provides upholstery services, vehicle restoration for volunteer fire departments and more. It grosses about $8 million a year.

It’s cheap labor: Prisoners are not paid for their work, but they do get training that will qualify them for jobs after they leave prison.

A long-established policy bars sexual offenders from schools, but Green was never classified as a sexual predator because he pleaded guilty only to first-degree murder to avoid the death penalty.

Green was charged with kidnapping, sexually assaulting and killing Helen Lynette Spencer, 18, of Gravel Ridge in 1974.

Green had kidnapped her from Little Rock Air Force Base, where Green was a sergeant and she was visiting her boyfriend. Green beat her to death with martial-arts sticks and ran over her body and dumped her into Twin Prairie Bayou in Lonoke County.

Lonoke County Sheriff Jim Staley and Lonoke County Prosecuting Attorney Chuck Graham also expressed outrage when they heard about Green’s presence at the school. Graham said Monday he did not know Green worked in the district in January until we told him.

Green will probably die behind bars, although he almost went free when Huckabee announced he would pardon Green over the parole board’s objections.

The pardon fell through after The Leader reminded Huckabee how brutally Spencer was murdered.

The work-release program will probably continue in many schools and churches. But law-enforcement officials say parents and prosecutors should be notified before prisoners are sent to schools in their area.

Victims and their families should also know if inmates are leaving prison as part of the work-release program.