Deputy Prison Officer After Staging Inmate Wrestling Matches: Sheriff

Three sheriff’s office workers are out of work after hosting wrestling matches with three inmates in Ohio.

According to Lancaster, Ohio, Fairfield County Sheriff Alex Lape, surveillance cameras captured the fighting at the Fairfield County jail in June. The sheriff said so Lancaster Eagle Gazette that Deputy Shawn Pettit, Correctional Officer Kyle Archibald, and Correctional Officer Landon Talbott staged the games and the inmates wrestled for 10 minutes in the prison’s holding area.

“In 30 years I thought I’d seen pretty much everything,” Lape told the newspaper. “I saw the video and said you must be joking. I don’t know if they do [employees] took the bait of the challenge from the inmates. I do not know. I couldn’t get a straight answer to that.”

Marion Correctional Facility
Here watchtowers look over the prison yard at Marion Correctional Institution on April 27, 2020 in Marion, Ohio. Three sheriff’s office workers are out of work after hosting wrestling matches with inmates at the Fairfield County Jail in Lancaster, Ohio.

Archibald and Pettit resigned before their pre-disciplinary hearings, and Talbott was fired after his hearing. Talbott has filed a complaint that will soon go to arbitration to determine if he will be reinstated. Another law enforcement officer, Kayla Doss, received a 10-day unpaid suspension for not immediately reporting the incident.

An internal review of the incident was completed on September 16.

Lape said there were no injuries from the games, which one of the inmates described as “purely consensual.” The inmates and staff shook hands and hugged after the wrestling match. Lape contacted the Fairfield County Attorney’s Office, but after questioning the three employees and three inmates, the agency declined to pursue criminal charges.

Still, the wrestling bouts violated several codes of conduct from the sheriff’s office.

“It’s pretty obvious that you can see how this could have gone wrong in 100 different ways,” Lape said. “This is unacceptable behavior and will not be tolerated.”

Physical and sexual violence is a common element of the US prison experience, not only between inmates but also involving prison staff. According to a 2010 study by the Center for Mental Health Services and Criminal Justice Research, about 21 percent of male inmates were physically assaulted during a six-month period. While 19 percent said they were assaulted by other inmates, 21 percent said they were assaulted by prison staff.

Certain groups of people, including women and transgender people, are at higher risk of physical and sexual violence in prison. Transgender inmates are particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse. According to data from the Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), 39.9 percent of transgender people in US prisons reported being sexually assaulted or abused by another prisoner or staff member in 2011-2012, while 26.8 percent reported sexual assault or reported abuse in the country’s prisons.

news week reached out to the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office for comment. Deputy Prison Officer After Staging Inmate Wrestling Matches: Sheriff

Rick Schindler

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