How Did John McAllister Die? Inmate 'Eastside' from Netflix's 'Unlocked' Found Dead in Prison Cell Aged 29, Weeks Before His Release

The late inmate had a lengthy criminal record dating back to when he was 19 years old. He had spent time behind bars on 14 separate occasions.

One of the breakout stars from Netflix's controversial documentary series "Unlocked" has died aged 29, just a month before he was set to be released. John 'Eastside' McAllister was found dead in his bunk at Pulaski Correctional Center in Arkansas on Sunday, officials said. His family said that the cause of death of the inmate has not yet been established.

The premise of "Unlocked: A Jail Experiment" involved giving inmates a level of independence and autonomy within the prison. The eight-part series started airing in April. Authorities said that McAllister was taken to Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where he was pronounced dead just before 9:00 AM.

Mysterious Death

John McAllister
John McAllister X

Officials have ruled out murder and suicide, according to reports from KATV. McAllister was serving a sentence for ten drug-related felony counts, breaking and entering, theft of property, and gun possession. He pleaded guilty in 2023 and was sentenced to three years of hard time.

The late inmate had a lengthy criminal record dating back to when he was 19 years old. He had spent time behind bars on 14 separate occasions.

On the show, McAllister is shown running a tattoo parlor inside his prison cell.

In one episode, McAllister explained that being involved in criminal activity gave him an "adrenaline rush high" and that he had spent his life surrounded by criminals.

A GoFundMe page has been set for McAllister by his aunt, Melissa Regan. As of now, the page has raised $340 out of a $15,000 target.

The funds will cover the costs of McAllister's funeral and the transportation of his remains to family members in Omaha, Nebraska.

"His sudden passing has left our family devastated. The cause of his death is under investigation," a section of the page reads.

The family plans to hold a public celebration of life.

Difficult and Complicated Life

John McAllister
John McAllister X

In a 2016 Facebook post, McAllister's aunt accused him and his girlfriend of stealing various electronics from her home, including an XBox and a laptop. She said that her nephew was battling a meth addiction during that period.

On his own Facebook profile, McAllister said that he attended Omaha North Magnet High School in Nebraska and had been residing in Vilonia, Arkansas, since August 2021, before his imprisonment.

Last month, Pulaski County Sheriff Eric Higgins defended the decision to permit filming of the series at the county jail.

The decision has sparked criticism from local and state officials, who said they were unaware of the series until shortly before its debut.

The series centers around a six-week experiment that granted inmates in one cellblock greater freedom by unlocking their cell doors. Higgins clarified that he did not approach Netflix or Lucky 8, the production company responsible for filming the series.

"I took action to ensure that we have a reentry program to help those who are booked into our facility to come out and be better individuals," Higgins told members of the Joint Performance Review Committee.

Republican Sen. Jonathan Dismang said that he doesn't oppose the sheriff's reentry program or efforts to try new approaches to address recidivism. However, he raised concerns about the program being featured in a show and questioned whether it could truly be considered an experiment if it was being filmed.

Related topics : Netflix