Stabbed Holman Prison Corrections Officer Dies From Injuries

September 17, 2016

Alabama Department of Corrections officials have reported the death of a corrections officer who was assaulted and stabbed by an inmate at the William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore on September 1.

Corrections Officer Kenneth Bettis, 44, of Monroeville succumbed to his injuries at 5:35 p.m. on Friday at the University of South Alabama Hospital in Mobile.  Family members were by Bettis’ side at the time of his death.

“On behalf of the Alabama Department of Corrections, I extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the Bettis’ family during this tragic loss.  Officer Bettis was known among his colleagues as a firm, but fair corrections officer, and was highly respected for his work ethic and dedicated service to his profession,” said Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn.

Dunn said the Department of Corrections will prosecute the offender responsible for the officer’s death to the fullest extent of the law.

Cleveland Cunningham was charged with attempted murder after he assaulted and stabbed the officer on September 1.   Prison officials report Cunningham stabbed Bettis in retaliation for being denied an extra tray of food in the facility’s dining hall during the noon meal.

Cunningham is serving a 20-year sentence on a 2013 first-degree robbery conviction out of Baldwin County.
The charges against Cunningham (pictured left) will be upgraded to murder.

Bettis had served as a corrections officer at Holman since 2009.  In addition, the officer was a military veteran and had served on active duty in Iraq with the Alabama Army National Guard.  Bettis’ military awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, and Southwest Asia Service Medal with Bronze Service Star.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Officer Kenneth Bettis during this very difficult time,” Governor Bentley said. “Officer Bettis was a dedicated civil servant taking on the difficult role of corrections officer. 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.”

Bettis is survived by his wife and three children.

Members of ADOC’s Critical Incident Stress Management Team and chaplains are assisting the family and providing counseling support to the correctional staff at Holman.


57 Responses to “Stabbed Holman Prison Corrections Officer Dies From Injuries”

  1. DAVID HUIE GREEN on September 20th, 2016 12:57 pm

    “but prison does no good if itsnt reformatory so to D.O.C IS FOR AT FAULT FOR THE PRACTICE OF HARD TIME RATHER THAN LESAON TIME”

    A prison does good even if the inmates don’t learn their lessons or avail themselves of the classes which are offered. It provides a physical barrier between known predators and your loved ones. Attempts to reform human minds from criminal human to noncriminal human have always failed unless the human decides to accept personal responsibility and repent of continuing evil. Those who blame others for the actions of killers and other predators are part of the exculpatory mindset which contributes to the difficulty of improving.

    Possibly surgery and selective use of electrodes and current could change them for the better — or at least the less dangerous, but few want to try such measures so we are stuck with guarding the rest of humanity from them for a time.

    David for humanity

  2. Denise Hayes on September 19th, 2016 11:44 pm

    Let us not just send out prayers for the Bettis family, we need to all exercise our constitutional right and demand change. If enough people will sign a petition and get out and vote, things will change. Dont let them just sweep this under the rug! POLITICIANS DONT CARE! They need to be reminded that they are suppose to be working for the good of the people. How is it good for anyone to have to risk their life just to make a living? They have all lost sight of what life is like for the average citizen because they are in Congress lining their pockets with kickbacks.
    May the love and peace of God comfort you Bettis Family

  3. old timer on September 19th, 2016 7:11 pm

    If this would have happened in the late 60s or early 70s…would not need no investigation..go before grand jury..trial.. sentencing…and cost to taxpayer.

  4. 429SCJ on September 19th, 2016 7:04 pm

    Spare the rod

    You have to show these dangerous convicts who is in charge, and administer the consequences for insubordination and violent behavior. A good crack on the skull helps them come to order and to stay in order.

  5. Makaveli on September 19th, 2016 6:12 am

    He shouldn’t have been killed over a tray but prison does no good if itsnt reformatory so to D.O.C IS FOR AT FAULT FOR THE PRACTICE OF HARD TIME RATHER THAN LESAON TIME

  6. say it aint so on September 19th, 2016 12:05 am

    the inmates is not eating at a all you can eat buffet if he wanted another plate he should have never comitted the first crime now he going to waste taxpayers money again the state of alabama should fry him like the coward he is

  7. Just Wondering on September 18th, 2016 5:03 pm

    I have followed this story like most from the beginning certainly hoping and praying every single day for a much different outcome for this officer. My thoughts and prayers will continue for this family and the work family of Mr. Bettis.
    Although not actually relevant, what bothers me about reading this article is the quote from the governor thanking Officer Bettis ‘for his years of service’. What I question is, Governor, have you ever taken the time to actually thank a CO before they lost their life? Have you placed a call to the family personally to express your sincerest sympathy or do you just allow someone to quote you for an article? Did you lose an ounce of sleep over what transpired in your prison in your State? I agree with some of the other comments already made. This is a dangerous job. The people employed in these jobs are understaffed and underpaid and our Governor continues to cut budgets allowing the problems to only get worse. Our governor has no understanding of what it means to be a hard working middle class American. You have lost touch with your sense of responsibility and duties to this great State. May God bless us all.

  8. Tammy Davis on September 18th, 2016 2:34 pm

    Rip Kenny and thank u for your service I knew him a d he was a very sweet person prays for the family

  9. Dan on September 18th, 2016 11:14 am

    I’m trying to think of the nicest way to say your stupid. I think I will just go with you are misinformed and gullible if you believe those inmates are not getting plenty to eat and you also don’t really know the evil in the world if you don’t think someone would kill for not getting an extra tray or even less than that evil will kill for no reason

  10. David Huie Green on September 18th, 2016 9:45 am

    (Juries don’t put people in prison for doing reasonable things.)

  11. David Huie Green on September 18th, 2016 9:41 am

    “What in the world? There has to be more to the situation.”

    Enough more to justify murder?

    David for proportionality and brain function

  12. Amy on September 17th, 2016 10:31 pm

    My thoughts & prayers go out to his family.

  13. Sarah on September 17th, 2016 9:11 pm

    What in the world? There has to be more to the situation. As they stated, an investigation is still in effect. I pray for the guards family and the inmates because there is suffering all around. If that guy were related to you would you still say those things? Everybody needs prayer especially the whole state of Alabama. The situation is harsh but lets consider all areas. Would you all consider applying to work at Holmans to make a difference? The inmates are going without food when the cooks shut down the kitchen, so when this happens how do we as society create a way to continue the flow of food for the others? We need helpful solutions that will target the flaws in the facility.

  14. Better Pray on September 17th, 2016 7:06 pm

    I agree with Keefer the Blame start at the top. The STATE have the Officers working staff shortage over time and all the time. They make them work on days off to. The Warden and Gov. Bentley get to go home at night and get a good night sleep. They don’t have to work 12 to 18 hours sometimes without a break or time for lunch. It is time for a change before another fine Officer want be coming home. This family need their Husband, their Father their Son or Brother

  15. anne on September 17th, 2016 1:03 pm

    In a case like this they need to understand they will be gone in 30 days! Why should this guy get to sit around for another 15-20 years? No, hurt an officer, you’re toast.

  16. Becky on September 17th, 2016 12:51 pm

    Murder over a lunch tray?

  17. Becky on September 17th, 2016 12:50 pm

    He killed this honorable man because he didn’t get a second lunch tray? Since life has such small value to him, he should not be surprised to lose his life for murder.

  18. Jeff on September 17th, 2016 9:55 am

    The chair is not good enough for this guy. Take him outback and shoot him like a rabid dog.

  19. Maurice Gardner on September 17th, 2016 9:54 am

    As a Veteran and former C.O. for the State of Florida, my deepest condolences to the family of Officer Betts. May his soul rest eternally in peace.

  20. Danny Lackey on September 17th, 2016 9:37 am

    As a Correctional officer and veteran of the US Navy, let me say this..Rest well my brother, may you have smooth sea to sail on, a fair wind at your back and only sun to warm the day. You walk your beat in heaven now. We got your back and you never walked alone. .10-42 EOW.

  21. Officer Anthony Artley on September 17th, 2016 9:02 am

    A Police Officer’s Peom : God bless my family when I am away,
    Leave the lights on I’ll return from harms way,

    Grant me courage and strength to protect others each day,
    So they live in peace without worry, fear or dismay,

    Bless those who have fallen given their life for another
    May their spirit live on from then and forever,

    Return me home to my family at the end of each night,
    May I pass through the door before the morning’s first light,

    Shall I give my life for another before the dawn breaks today,
    God bless my family when I am away. Rest in peace brother your name will live on in forever!!

  22. Vera on September 17th, 2016 8:10 am

    I’m so sorry to hear this awful news.My prayers go out to Mr. Bettis family and friends.RIP my brave brother.

  23. Mr Nobody on September 17th, 2016 7:59 am

    That inmate needs the death penalty!! Let him take a ride in old sparky!!

  24. Speaking from exlerience on September 17th, 2016 7:55 am

    Open Bay or barracks style dormitory should be reserved for minimum security inmates only. They need to build 2 man cells more control and better security.

  25. Gary on September 17th, 2016 5:46 am

    My condolences to Mr. Bettis’s family. I wish Alabama would use their BP oil money to build a new, larger, and modern prison to ensure the safety on the men and women who work at the prison. Wouldn’t that be that money well spent rather than another playhouse for Bentley?

  26. Terrence Jefferson on September 17th, 2016 4:14 am

    I’m ready this as my mom is getting ready for work at Holeman Prison! The problem over at Holman is real. Please get active and vote! I promise you The state of Alabama is doing nothing to fix the issues over there! Go vote this year and not just at the national level! Our state and countries elections matter just as much!

  27. Karen on September 17th, 2016 1:48 am

    I’m so sorry for the loss. This inmate needs death he is guilty. He deserves any and all coming to him. Everyone knows no-one gets two trays.

  28. Ministry Kennedy Young on September 17th, 2016 12:12 am

    As a Ministry at HOLMAN PRISON on the Third Sunday, L send my Pray to the Bettie Family’s my the Peace of God be with you in a time like this.We will be Pray for All that are at HOLMAN PRISON. My God Holy Spirit Comfortable You All In The Name Of Jesus Christ. Ministry Kennedy Young Of Pensacola Florida That Come In With Charity Chapel Church On The Third Sunday

  29. KEEFER on September 16th, 2016 10:51 pm


  30. Fellow C.O on September 16th, 2016 10:33 pm

    RIP brother thank you for your service to your country and your community. I Salute you. Condolences to the family.

  31. Janice Parham on September 16th, 2016 10:28 pm

    God bless this Officer’s family and bring them peace… It’s going to take nothing less than God’s mercy to see them through. As for the inmate. He doesn’t deserve to live to see another minute!

  32. Concerned wife on September 16th, 2016 10:24 pm

    A man just doing his job and taking care of his family. My husband told me Mr. Bettis was one of the most respected and kindhearted men working there and he was very well like by everyone. I am praying for this man and his family.

    We need change in our prison system. People who work at Holman have been pleading for months for change and help to ease overcrowding and increase. My husband currently works at Holman and I fear of something like this happening everyday. It’s about time Gov. Bentley wakes up and does something about this problem.

  33. Joe Lewis on September 16th, 2016 10:10 pm

    So sorry for your loss. We are thinking of you and have you in our prayers.
    AFSCME Local 494
    Pontiac Correctional Center
    Pontiac, Illinois

  34. Riley on September 16th, 2016 9:34 pm

    I don’t know officer Bettis but my deepest condolences go out to his family because as a fellow corrections officer (Florida department of corrections) our goal is to always leave out the gate the same way we went in and its sad to see that he did not.
    But this should let everyone that is blind to the fact know that corrections officers jobs are extremely dangerous and we put our lives on the line everyday to protect and serve our communities. Salute to you our brother and fly high….

  35. Randy Bell on September 16th, 2016 9:29 pm

    How can a man survive a war in Iraq and then be killed like a lamb led to slaughter by a animal. In this instance he should be place in the chair. It’s no guessing who done it, he should not be allowed to take another mans life again.

  36. XD9RACER on September 16th, 2016 9:24 pm

    This is so sad to see a good man as spoken of about him be taken out by a low life ruthless thug for what amounted to nothing–because he didn’t get his way he has to kill but maybe not intentional but he did the assault. He needs to be tried swiftly and be dished out the same as he dished out and rather swiftly as well. He might be viewed as a hero in the eyes of other vicious inmates but in my book he is a “0″ and hopefully real soon he will not be a non breathing “0″. GETERDONE

  37. mick on September 16th, 2016 9:20 pm

    The scumbag that killed this correctional officer should go to the head of the line and the death penalty expedited, put the rabid animal down.

  38. Pamela F. on September 16th, 2016 8:59 pm

    RIP. This can happen to any of us at anytime. Never forget where you are at an who you are dealing with. At times like this when there is great unrest amongst the inmates, staff shortages, and department funding constantly being diverted or cut, we need to be diligent at our jobs but also do everything possible to walk out those gates at the end of our shift! Stay safe. Many prayers for this Heroes family, friends, and work family.

  39. Richie on September 16th, 2016 8:56 pm

    Time to quit playing with these kinds of inmates. Put the hammer to them. This one thug deserves the death penalty no doubt, nor 3 square meals for life.

  40. Bevsmom on September 16th, 2016 8:49 pm

    Prayers are going up for this family as well as his “work family.” Thank you for your service to our country and for your ultimate sacrifice to keep us safe.

  41. Tammy T on September 16th, 2016 8:39 pm

    Praying for this officers friends in blue, family and friends… My husband is CO in Escambia county

  42. Puddin on September 16th, 2016 8:37 pm

    RIP sir.’

  43. Rebecca Lewis on September 16th, 2016 8:35 pm

    Prayers for family and co-workers. Should be automatic death penalty for killing CO. Life only gives opportunity to do it again.

  44. Sharon Brady on September 16th, 2016 8:33 pm

    So sorry for your loss. My husband and I was/am a retired Florida DOC employees. My husband was a correctional officer sergeant and I worked in the medical department. This is a dangerous environment and we must all be deli gent to stay aware of our surroundings. My God wrap his loving arms around you in this sad time.

  45. Brandon keith on September 16th, 2016 8:33 pm

    PRAYERS GO OUT TO THE BETTIS FAMILY! Officer Bettis you can now rest brother!

  46. danny bolton on September 16th, 2016 8:25 pm

    Electric chair for you….

  47. DANNETTE Van Syckle on September 16th, 2016 8:24 pm

    RIP… my thoughts and prayers are with his loving family.

  48. Willis on September 16th, 2016 8:10 pm

    Condolences to the family.
    So sorry for your loss.

  49. Nana on September 16th, 2016 7:52 pm

    Although I did not know this gentleman, my heart goes out to his family and friends.
    May he rest in peace and God protect and comfort his family.

  50. Holman A-Days on September 16th, 2016 7:48 pm

    You will surely be missed my friend and co worker. No one can ever take your place BATMAN!!!

  51. Bill on September 16th, 2016 7:39 pm

    So Sorry to hear this CO’s have a tough job I hope they fast track this coward to the table

  52. Good grief on September 16th, 2016 7:06 pm

    So sad and senseless. To Officer Bettis family, I am so sorry for your great loss. May God give you peace that surpasses all understanding. RIP Sir.

  53. Shannon Evans on September 16th, 2016 6:52 pm

    RIP Officer Bettis. Our thoughts and prayers are with your family at this time.

  54. Sage 2 on September 16th, 2016 6:50 pm

    One word…SAD!

  55. Mike Amerson on September 16th, 2016 6:48 pm

    Now this inmate needs to get the electric chair. The job doesn’t pay near enough to even go in every day and then to lose your life over it is senseless. No trial, no court, straight to the chair. To the family of the Officer, I’m very sorry for your loss of a good man. Please keep all the great memories he has left you all alive and remember that there are those of us that understands why he worked in the field to begin with . Mike Amerson

  56. James on September 16th, 2016 6:47 pm

    Rest in peace brother,your shift is over you fought the good fight we will take it from here. My sincere condolences to the family.

  57. Rhonda Lassiter on September 16th, 2016 6:29 pm

    Praying for this family…my husband is a correctional officer and actually worked with him at Century Correctional. This is a very dangerous profession.

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