Tainted Prison Blood

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Tainted Prison Blood

In 1969, Tom Murton, the warden of Cummins Prison, wrote a book called Accomplices to the Crime: The Arkansas Prison Scandal, which gave an account of the corruption and poor conditions in the prison. He also alleged that human skeletons found on the prison farm belonged to inmates tortured to death.

Winthrop A. Rockefeller, the thirty-seventh Governor of Arkansas, had released a State-Police prison report of sixty-seven pages. The report talked about the atrocious conditions in the prison. The report also stated that the prisoners were subjected to sexual assault, torture, beating and flogging, and monitory extortion. The quality of food and medical service was also poor in the prison. The report was suppressed by the former governor, Orval Faubus. The prison was run in collaboration with armed prisoners working as trustee guards in the absence of salaried guards. They made the prison into an open market of drugs and alcohol.

Even more disturbing than the horrible conditions at the prison was the blood scandal that began a deadly flow of tainted plasma, killing people all over the world. Due to a lack of proper supervision and corrupt prison officials, this blood often infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or hepatitis was allowed to be distributed around the world. The corrupt officials knowingly allowed the diseased blood to be sold for medical use.

Using the keywords “Arkansas prison blood scandal,” search the South University Online Library or the Internet for information on the Arkansas prison blood scandal. Investigate the prison issues involving Cummins Prison in Arkansas for the National Prison Reform Group. Then create a 7- to 10-slide Microsoft PowerPoint presentation that addresses the following questions:

  • The story of the tainted blood sales never achieved national coverage but was covered by the local press in Arkansas. Analyze whether this story was of national interest.
  • In what ways did the political climate in Arkansas affect the media coverage of the story, and what part did the then governor Clinton play in the cover-up?
  • Given the history of abuse of prisoners at Cummins, should a closer scrutiny have been made of the blood-for-money program? Who should have done this?
  • Analyze and explain whether the current US legislation regarding compensation for victims is justified. Who should be responsible for compensating the victims?

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