Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

William “Dubs” Byers writes book about 1979 Cummins Prison escape, book signing at Hempstead County Library June 18th

By ., 06/6/22 3:54 PM

William “Dubs” Byers, a native of Hope, Arkansas, recently authored a book, The Paper Plate Escape. The book is about a prison escape that happened at Cummins Prison on January 1, 1979.

The Hempstead County Library in Hope will be hosting a book signing for Byers on Saturday, June 18, 2022, 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM. The book is about sixteen inmates who took over the maximum security building and held six correctional officers hostage. Ten inmates were able to leave the building and escape over the perimeter fence into the night. While the building was being taken back by security personnel, a massive manhunt began in the area around the prison as the temperatures dropped into the single digits, with a wind chill factor well below zero. All the escapees were apprehended by noon the next day (January 2) and were returned to Cummins.

However, the story does not end with the recapture of the inmates. As they were returned to Cummins, there were allegations of excessive force being used on them as they came back to the maximum security unit. There were stories of pistol whipping, baton beating, kicking, and other forms of force being used on inmates while they were handcuffed and restrained. This led to a months’ long investigation by the Board of Corrections and the federal court, which resulted in terminations and disciplinary actions against employees. The outcome of these events brought about significant changes within the prison system, particularly in officer training and the way internal investigations are handled.

Dubs spent 39 years with the Arkansas Correctional School System, with 20 of those years being at Cummins. He has always had an interest in prison history, especially Cummins. For the past seven years he has served on the Board of Corrections and was recently reappointed by Governor Hutchinson for another seven-year term on the Board. He and his wife, Jane, have lived in Gould for 47 years.