Warden resigns

Thursday, March 3, 2005

Parks cites personal reasons for his departure after 20 years with ADC

Warden Brooks Parks of the North Central Unit in Calico Rock resigned from his office effective March 4 for personal reasons.

"We're all in shock," said Dinah Tyler, spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Corrections. "He has been a hard working employee for 20 years and we hate to lose him."

Controversy has swirled around Parks, 50, and North Central Unit Major Jeffrey Dean, 37, since a Jan. 17 single vehicle wreck on Highway 5 near the North Central Unit.

Tyler said officials tried to talk Parks out of resigning but he has committed to his decision.

"He said his heart wasn't in it anymore," Tyler said.

Assistant Warden John Moss will replace Parks until a replacement is found, Tyler said.

According to authorities, Dean drove his 2003 Chevrolet pickup into the northbound ditch, hitting two utility poles and three parked cars before coming to a rest in the yard of Donnie Speak.

Speak, a pastor, said Dean and his passenger, Parks, were intoxicated, but no citations were issued.

Dean was transported from the wreck to St. John's Medical Center in Springfield. He was treated for head and spine injuries and is now recuperating at home, Tyler said.

Parks was treated for minor injuries at the scene.

Speak said Arkansas State Trooper Jim Brown arrived immediately after the wreck. But according to the ASP transmission log, Brown did not report the accident until 16 minutes after he arrived.

Speak said he overheard Brown tell Dean and Parks he would have "only given them a speeding ticket."

The official accident report released by the Arkansas State Police does not mention a chase or the cause of the accident.

Repeated phone calls by The News to Brown have not been returned.

Tyler said her department is conducting an investigation into the wreck, but the results will not be known until the police investigation is complete.

Brown requested a blood-alcohol test for Dean at St. John's, but the results have not been released to Arkansas authorities, said Prosecutor Don McSpadden.

McSpadden said it's common for states to delay in sending medical information about patients to other states.

He said the investigation cannot be completed until the test results are released.

Tyler said Parks would have likely been transferred from the North Central Unit if he had not resigned.

Parks has served as the North Central Unit warden for 1 1/2 years. Prior to his service at the Calico Rock prison he served three years as the Benton Unit warden, near Little Rock.

Dean will not be disciplined by the Department of Corrections until all investigations are complete and he recovers from his injuries, Tyler said.

She said despite Parks' resignation he could work for the department in the future.

"He could definitely get a job with us again," Tyler said. "He is a good man, caught up in a potentially bad situation."

Tyler said the Department of Corrections does not have an immediate replacement for Parks.

"This happened so fast," Tyler said. "There wasn't a readymade list to replace him."

She said the job would be posted within the next week and the interviews would begin.

The timetable to replace Parks is short.

"We want to get someone in here as soon as we can," Tyler said. "We want the next warden at the North Central Unit to be someone who can become a part of the community."

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