Honoring Officer Bettis

William DeSpain with the joint resolution

A portion of Highway 21 has been dedicated in memory of a correctional officer who was killed at Holman Correctional Facility last year.

House Representative Alan Baker (R-Brewton) delivered the signed House Joint Resolution for the Correctional Officer Kenneth L. Bettis Memorial Highway to former Classification Specialist Hayden Glass Sizemore and Classification Specialist Supervisor William S. DeSpain on Wednesday, May 31.

The journey to HJR-12 began in October 2016 when Sizemore contacted Representative Baker and Senator Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) regarding dedicating a portion of Highway 21 from I-65 to Smithfield Road in honor of Officer Bettis. Officer Bettis was fatally wounded by inmate Cleve Cunningham at Holman on September 1, 2016. He succumbed to the wound and passed away on September 16, 2016. Cunningham has since been charged with capital murder and is pending trial in Escambia County.

“Officer Bettis’ death left a gaping hole in the heart of Holman. He was truly a wonderful man that we all enjoyed working with. He was boisterous and his smile illuminated every room he entered. A pleasure to be around, and an excellent Correctional Officer. I chose to honor him in this manner, as a reminder to all of those who travel Highway 21 to remember the father, husband, solider, officer, and friend that Bettis was,” Sizemore said.

Rep. Baker worked with the Legislative Reference Service to draft the legislation, and sponsored it in the House while Senator Albritton carried the measure in the Senate.

“I really appreciate Representative Baker. The proposal never would’ve materialized if it hadn’t been for his tireless work. Likewise, I appreciate Senator Albritton for supporting the legislation in the Senate. There is no possible way to truly honor someone like Officer Bettis. We cannot bring him back, but we must not ever forget him,” Sizemore said.

DeSpain is shown with the resolution at Holman Correctional Facility. A ceremonial signing for the resolution was planned for April 12, 2017 at the State Capitol, but was cancelled due to Governor Robert Bentley’s resignation.