White Corrections Officer with only 6 months on the job killed in prison shank-attack by Black murderer according to Police

Glennville, Georgia – A state Correctional Officer was violently killed after a brutal assault unfolded inside the infamous Smith State Prison in Tattnall County. According to the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC), the victim was stabbed to death from behind with a “homemade weapon” as he escorted two Black inmates to the prison’s dining hall.

In a news release issued by GDC, 42-year-old Correctional Officer Robert Clark was pronounced dead at a local hospital on Sunday after being targeted in a vicious shank-attack by a Black inmate. According to the agency, Clark—who is White—had just begun his career in Georgia State Corrections only six months prior, back in April.

32-year-old inmate Layton Lester (left) and 42-year-old Correctional Officer Robert Clark (right). Photos: GDC.

“The entire GDC team is mourning the loss of one of our own, and we collectively express our deepest condolences to Officer Clark’s family and friends,” said Corrections Commissioner Tyrone Oliver in a statement. “We will support them as they navigate this tragedy over the coming days, weeks, and months.”

According to the news release, Clark was tasked with escorting two Black convicts to the Prison’s dining hall for regularly scheduled meals. That’s when one of the inmates, 32-year-old Layton Lester, assaulted Clark from behind with a prison shank. The other inmate intervened on behalf of Clark but was also assaulted. GDC has identified that inmate as 41-year-old Marko Willingham, who sustained non-life-threatening injuries in the melee.

Lester and Willingham are both currently serving life sentences for murder and other crimes, according to GDC’s publicly available inmate record database. For the death of Clark and assault on fellow inmate Willingham, Lester is now facing additional charges.

“Smith State Prison is just, unfortunately, one of the worst ones that we’re seeing right now…You see all of these videos, and you see all of the gang violence and just the violence taking place, and you never see an officer anywhere…Nobody wants to work in a prison. Unfortunately, that’s where we are.”

Brian Randolph with the Human and Civil Rights Coalition of Georgia

Lester first entered Smith State Prison for a 2007 crime spree in nearby Tift County, which included murder, armed robbery, burglary, and possession of a firearm during a crime. It is currently unknown if federal hate crimes enhancements will be issued to Lester—a move that could spell the death penalty for an already condemned inmate—but the Justice Report will continue to provide updates as they become available.

“Today we join the public safety community in mourning the loss of Corrections Officer Robert Clark,” said Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in a post to the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. “Please join us in praying for his family, loved ones, and the Georgia Department of Corrections at this time.”

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The murder of White Correctional Officer Robert Clark comes amid a deepening correctional hiring crisis affecting jailhouses nationwide. In a special report conducted by local news affiliate WJCL 22—just days before Clark was killedit was revealed that Smith State Prison has been home to over five homicides since the start of 2023, as well as a surge of gang-related beatings and other prison infractions. In February, a former Warden was arrested and brought up on RICO charges for his suspected role in a prison-wide contraband smuggling ring.

In addition to violence and corruption, the overall quality of life at SSP has been an evergreen topic of controversy. In 2022, the prison failed health inspections due to the presence of “flies,” “roaches,” and even rodents by the Georgia Department of Public Health. A lack of security staff has been attributed to the chaos, but despite an upward trend of Correctional hiring and retention rates cited by GDC, some fear the additional manpower isn’t enough to restore order.

Georgia state prison leader addresses concerns at Smith State Prison. Youtube: WTOC

“Smith State Prison is just, unfortunately, one of the worst ones that we’re seeing right now,” said Brian Randolph with the Human and Civil Rights Coalition of Georgia, an advocacy group. “You see all of these videos, and you see all of the gang violence and just the violence taking place, and you never see an officer anywhere…Nobody wants to work in a prison. Unfortunately, that’s where we are.”

The sting of low manpower can be felt in areas other than Georgia, however. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons—the US department in charge of Federal offenders across the country—approximately 3,000 officers abruptly exited the profession in 2021, and another 3,000 are set to leave in 2023. In Missouri, a makeshift team of traveling Corrections Officers were issued comped hotels, meals, and fuel vouchers to cover mandated positions in understaffed prisons across the State. The emergency measure was implemented to ensure that operations continued running smoothly despite a lack of manpower.

In Massachusetts, authorities took a different approach in tackling the state’s ongoing prison woes. Instead of driving up recruitment, a newly proposed bill seeks to lower inmate population by offering offenders shorter sentences in exchange for their organs and bone marrow. The plan was hatched by Democrats as a way to deal with the surging inmate population, but left some to criticize the practice of inmate organ harvesting as an appalling promotion of anti-White ‘Health Equity.’

Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections, Tyrone Oliver, was appointed in 2022 by Governor Brian Kemp (R). He previously served as Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice. Photo: georgia.gov.

Despite a myriad of stopgap measures put in place by prison agencies to provide care, custody, and control of American criminals, a lack of public interest in the profession has made the task difficult. In 2022, a White inmate was beaten and killed over prison food in West Virginia’s controversial Southern Regional Jail. The victim, 46-year-old Alvis Shrewsbury, was killed only 19 days into his incarceration and would be just one of four White men to die under similar circumstances within the same year.

While White men have increasingly become manipulated and targeted for horrific acts of violence inside the prison industrial complex, Black inmates appear to be emboldened, capitalizing on the chaos to indulge their unrepentant criminal lifestyles. In Ohio, a Black career criminal was arrested for shooting and killing a White man during a suspected “road rage” incident. An independent investigation found the accused had an extensive history of bad behavior while incarcerated for different crimes. In a separate incident, another Black career criminal was charged with abusing the corpse of a 13-year-old White girl. An independent investigation revealed he had a whopping 309-page criminal history in Ohio State prisons and ties to jailhouse violence.

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