Former White River Juvenile Dentention Center Captain called “sadistic” by U.S. District Judge, sentenced to 7 years in prison

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Peggy Kendrick, 45, who at one time held the rank of Captain and oversaw operations at the White River Juvenile Detention Center in Batesville, has been sentenced to seven years in federal prison.

The Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports that the sentence is 13 months more than the recommended penalty.  Apparently U. S. District Judge James Moody Junior increased the penalty himself.

Kendrick pled guilty almost two years ago, admitting she violated the civil rights of youth who were incarcerated at the White River Juvenile Detention Center.  One way she did that was allowed the practice of pepper spraying an offender for a minor violation and letting the irritant to stay on the youngster’s skin or in their eyes for a period of time before allowing a “washing.”

The Democrat Gazette report by Linda Satter said Judge Moody called Kendrick’s actions “sadistic” and completely “unjustified.”

When the Judge asked her why she did such things, Kendrick reportedly said, “that’s the way I was trained.”  When asked by whom, she replied, “by the sheriff’s office, and a prison where I got my pepper-spray training.”

Kendrick’s attorney asked for leniency, saying the way the Detention Center was operated at the time it made, “a perfect storm for something like this to happen.”  

The attorney also said Kendrick has apologized for her actions several times and now has severe post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and pseudo-seizures.  Her attorney added, “she is just not this horrible person that the government has portrayed her to be.”

The government attorney said, “she had a position of substantial power and authority, and she abused it.”  He said, on top of that, she tried to cover up the abuse.

In addition to Kendrick’s seven year prison sentence, she was fined $5,000 and denied the request to self-report to prison.  She was taken straight to a federal detention center.

Previously, other jailers and assistants, were sentenced for their actions of abuse. Dennis Fuller to three years in prison and Jason Benton to two-and-a-half years. Two former jailers, Will Ray and Thomas Farris, were acquitted by a federal jury in December.

The White River Juvenile Detention Center in Batesville is now apparently a well-run center that is on the “cutting edge” of the youth lock-up community.  

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