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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Calico prison gets new warden -- again

Thursday, June 16, 2005

For the second time in three months the North Central Unit Correctional Facility in Calico Rock has a new warden.

Warden James "Jimmy" Banks took charge of the correctional facility June 6 after Fred Campbell, the former warden, was demoted to assistant warden and reassigned to the Ouachita Unit Correctional Facility.

Dinah Tyler, public information officer for the Arkansas Department of Corrections, said Campbell received a bachelor's degree from a college in Missouri that is not accredited.

Without the degree, Campbell is not qualified to be a warden with the ADC, Tyler said.

"He (Campbell) is fully qualified to be a warden in our system, but he needs one thing -- accreditation -- before we can allow him to be a warden," Tyler said.

Banks, 44, said Campbell's reassignment was unfortunate but he was looking forward to the challenge of being the North Central Unit's newest warden.

"This is the third time I've tried to come over here and I'm ready for the challenge," Banks said. "I've worked with every warden who served here at other facilities around the state before they came here and all of them were good employees for the ADC."

Banks, who has worked in the ADC system for over 20 years, said he intends to make the North Central Unit the top correctional facility in the state.

"My agenda here is simple," Banks said. "I want to fit in and help maintain one of the best run units in the state."

Banks served 11 years as an assistant warden at the Eastern Arkansas Unit and the Varna Unit before moving to Calico Rock.

He said while he was at the Varna Unit it became the "Super Max," the highest security prison in Arkansas.

"We kept the worst and most violent offenders in the state at the Varna," Banks said.

Before working for the ADC, Banks said he managed a department store. He said his management experience, his love of law enforcement and firefighting made ADC a natural fit.

"Those are the three things that intrigue me the most and all three can be wrapped around this one job," Banks said.

Each year Banks teaches a fire and safety class to ADC officials from around the state.

Campbell had been appointed as North Central Unit warden after Brooks Parks resigned March 4.

Parks was a passenger in a vehicle that was involved in a single vehicle wreck on Highway 5 near the North Central Unit in January.

The driver of the vehicle, 37-year-old Jeffrey Deen, then major at the North Unit, was charged with DWI and other traffic violations, stemming from the wreck.

Deen, who was seriously injured in the wreck, was demoted and transferred to a correctional facility in Newport in April.

There shouldn't be any questions about Banks' accreditation. He received a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from the University at Arkansas Pine Bluff in 1992.

Banks said he worked with Parks at the Wrightsville Unit, where Parks served as classification and records supervisor.

"Brooks is a good guy and I enjoyed working with him," Banks said.

Other than an occasional audit of the facility, Banks said he has rarely visited Calico Rock.

He said he is an avid fisherman and hunter and is looking forward to participating in both activities while stationed in the area.

Banks, who has been married to his wife, Tammy, for nine years, said she will remain a correctional officer at the federal prison in Forrest City.

"We have a house there so we'll be traveling a lot to see each other," he said.

The couple doesn't have any children together, but have a total of six children from previous marriages, Banks said.

How long does Banks plan to work at the Calico Rock facility?

"As long as I can," Banks said with a long laugh. "I wasn't born independently wealthy so I'll be around, hopefully, for a long time."

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