Local News

Inmate's Family Questions Control At Detention Center As Son Lies In A Coma

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Justin Clark
BUTNER, N.C. — Two recent attacks have raised questions about control at a local youth detention center in Butner, N.C.

One attack resulted in a security officer being treated at a local hospital and another attack was so severe, it put 19-year-old Justin Clark in a coma.

Seven inmates are now segregated at Polk Youth Institution until the Department of Correction and the State Bureau of Investigation investigate.

Clark's family admits he deserves to be behind bars because of his background in breaking and entering and gang activity. They argue though, he did not deserve what happened.

On March 31, prison administrators believe one or more of the seven inmates beat Clark into a coma.

"They were doing a head count and went to get Justin up," said Jessica Hibbs, Clark's adoptive mother. "And they realized Justin was not conscious and had been beaten."

Hibbs and her husband Raymond came down from Delaware to see Clark in the hospital.

In addition to Clark's beating, Polk administrators also confirm a security officer was treated and released from the hospital after another inmate assaulted him with a baton.

Spokesperson Pam Walker says the Department of Correction has full confidence the staff can handle Polk's population.

"These are folks that have serious histories," said Walker. "A lot of them assaultive type behavior in background. Unfortunately, things are going to happen."

Clark's father, Raymond Hibbs, understands there is potential for assaults, but says he cannot understand how such a brutal attack could take place.

"I don't understand how such a brutal beating -- and for him to be transferred back to his cot and locked back in his room and left there to die -- could happen in a facility with so much security," Raymond Hibbs said.

Jessica Hibbs also said she has been denied access to see her adopted son. She said the Department of Correction has revoked hospital visitation when a guard wrongly accused her of trying to smuggle in recording equipment.

The Hibbs are planning legal action against the prison.

The Polk Youth Institute houses a little over 1,000 inmates. All are men between 19 and 25 years old.

The age restrictions expanded in 2003 because of an increased demand for prison space. Polk Youth Institution deals with inmates considered some of the most dangerous in the state.

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