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Outrage Over Explicit Prison Video of Richard Speck

May 13, 1996 GMT

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ In the videotape secretly recorded in a maximum-security prison, mass murderer Richard Speck strips off his jumpsuit to reveal women’s blue underwear.

Along with another inmate, he snorts a white powder that appears to be cocaine, engages in sex acts and tells the camera how he’s had the time of his life behind bars.

``If they only knew how much fun I was having in here, they would turn me loose,″ Speck says.

The videotape, portions of which began airing last week on Chicago’s WBBM-TV, shows no contrition from the man who murdered eight student nurses nearly 30 years ago. Speck died of a heart attack in 1991, one day shy of his 50th birthday.

The tape has proved to be a major embarrassment for Illinois corrections officials, who beginning Wednesday will be called before a state legislative panel to answer questions about how closely they watched one of the nation’s most notorious serial killers.

``To use cocaine, to smoke marijuana, to have explicit sexual contact with who knows how many people, that’s a disaster,″ said Republican Rep. Peter Roskam. ``And if that’s happening, it doesn’t matter what watch it’s happening on, that’s not what the taxpayers of illinois are bargaining for.″

While lawmakers do not have the power to prosecute, they can investigate and recommend charges.

How Speck and two other inmates at Stateville Correctional Center got into an area with video equipment reserved for staff training is something that corrections spokesman Nic Howell called the ``$60 million question.″

The two-hour tape surfaced last summer when an attorney approached WBBM anchor Bill Kurtis. The tape appeared to have been made over two days and one inmate is heard saying it is 1988, Kurtis said.

``It was a pornographic tape,″ Kurtis said. ``They have anal and oral sex for the camera.″

Those portions were not aired.

``We don’t know why it was made, what they were going to get out of it,″ he said.

Speck, a companion and a third man who did the taping did not appear to be fearful of being caught. Speck, asked how many lovers he has had in prison, responded that he can’t count that high.

Speck admitted he committed the killings _ breaking for the first time his claim of drug-induced amnesia.

``It vindicates our view that his conduct was not drug induced and was not done in amnesiac state, but it is little solace to the victims’ families at this point or anybody else,″ said former chief prosecutor William J. Martin.

Speck had been sentenced to die for the July 14, 1966, murders, but he escaped the electric chair after the U.S. Supreme Court decided in 1972 that the death penalty constituted cruel and unusual punishment.

His sentence was commuted to eight consecutive terms of 50 to 150 years each. He was denied parole seven times.

Corrections officials learned the tape existed about a month ago, Howell said. Corrections Director Odie Washington has ordered that all video equipment be removed from the prison’s education area.

Speck was a painter. Unlike other prison jobs, where an inmate reports to a fixed location like the kitchen or the laundry, he moved throughout the prison.

``He was supposed to be supervised all the time,″ Howell said. ``Obviously there was a breakdown in the supervision.″

The warden at Stateville in 1988 was Michael O’Leary, who now is an assistant deputy director. He is declining media interviews.