Arrested Guard Likened Inmates to 'Puppies'

Prison a tough place to work, he told interviewer 15 years ago
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 26, 2015 12:50 AM CDT
Updated Jun 26, 2015 5:00 AM CDT
Arrested Guard Likened Inmates to 'Puppies'
New York State Police officers escort suspended Clinton Correctional Facility guard Gene Palmer from court in Plattsburgh, NY, on Wednesday.   (Keshia Clukey/Albany Times-Union via AP)

Gene Palmer, the guard accused of delivering hacksaw blades in frozen meat to aid the escape of Richard Matt and David Sweat, cared for the Clinton Correctional Facility about as much as Johnny Cash cared for San Quentin, according to an interview unearthed by NBC News. In 2000, Palmer was a North Country Public Radio reporter's tour guide inside the prison. He described it as a "negative environment" for guards and other workers and likened the inmates to kids in a "kindergarten kind of atmosphere"—or caged "puppies." The 57-year-old has worked for the prison for 27 years.

Palmer told the station that a "rat system" of informers helped keep the prison among the best in the US, though certainly not easy on workers. "With the money that they pay you, you'll go bald, you'll have high blood pressure, you'll become an alcoholic," he said. "You'll divorce, and then you'll kill yourself," he said. Palmer, who allegedly gave Matt benefits in return for paintings and snitching, has told authorities that he had no idea that the assistance he provided to the inmates, including access to a catwalk behind their cells, would help them escape, the AP reports. Palmer's arraignment has been postponed until Monday because he's hiring a team of lawyers to replace a solo practitioner, reports NBC. (More David Sweat stories.)

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