State officials are investigating the death of a 24-year-old prison inmate who was beaten to death by guards at Ventress Correctional Facility in Clayton, Alabama, on August 4, 2010. Rocrast Mack was serving a 20-year sentence for a non-violent drug offense at the time of his death.
Witnesses report that Rocrast Mack, a young Black man, was approached by a female guard while lying in his dorm bed covered with a blanket. He was accused of inappropriate sexual behavior while lying on his cot, told to get up, and then struck by the guard, who reportedly was angry about what he was doing. After being struck by the guard, Mr. Mack allegedly punched the guard, which prompted several guards to beat him. He reportedly ran out of the dorm where witnesses stated that guards beat him after he was handcuffed and subdued. Several witnesses report that the beating continued at several locations in the prison yard until Mr. Mack was so severely injured that he died.
Mr. Mack reportedly sustained fractures to his ribs, arms, legs, and skull, and was brain dead by the time he arrived at Jackson Hospital, where he died.
The killing was reported to state police and is being investigated by the Alabama Bureau of Investigation in addition to the Department of Corrections’s own internal investigation. Although Department of Corrections spokesman Brian Corbett said, “An inmate allegedly assaulted an officer and other officers had to intervene. He did later pass of his injuries,” inmate witnesses are reporting that the man was beaten to death by guards.
Ventress, located in rural southeast Alabama, is a state prison housing more than twice as many people as it was designed to hold, and is one of the state’s most overcrowded facilities.