The Arkansas prison farms at Cummins and Varner were the feature story in the July-August 2011 issue of the Arkansas Farm Bureau’s Front Porch magazine.
FEMA provided funds to the ADC to help offset the costs of repairs to the Tucker, Grimes and McPherson Units in addition to monies received to repair roads and structural damages to the East Arkansas Regional Unit from storm damages.
The Arkansas’ Old State House Museum received the Award of Merit (the highest form of recognition presented to any institution for an exhibit, program or publication by the American Association for State and Local History) for its exhibit: Badges, Bandits and Bars: Arkansas Law and Justice. The exhibit, offered a compelling look into the police and prison systems through over 900 artifacts and photos including the state’s two electric chairs, seized gaming equipment and inmate weapons, to the original gavel used by the now-famous “Hanging” Judge Isaac Parker.
The Maximum Security Unit held a grand opening for its new chapel November 2011.
The first ADC Horse Auction was held November 19th at the Saline County Fairgrounds in Benton. The event raised about $35,000.
On Roosevelt Road in Little Rock a new barracks was opened for the housing of inmates assigned to daily supervision by the Arkansas State Police with work assignments in the Little Rock area.
The Pine Bluff Unit School was the fifth Correctional Unit in the United States to successfully deliver a GED test via the computer. The inmate who took the test via the computer was Travis Warren. He scored 660 on the social studies test, which was in the 95th percentile. With this milestone, the correctional school system began the process of transitioning from paper and pencil tests to computer-based testing.
PAWS in Prison started on December 8, 2011, at the Maximum Security Unit, Ouachita River Correctional Facility and the Randall L. Williams Correction Facility. On December 13th, PAWS in Prison was added at the Hawkins Center for Women.
The Diagnostic Unit was closed in January 2012. The Board of Corrections made the decision to open the SNU (Special Needs Unit) at the Ouachita River Correctional Unit, which is the first of its kind in the country. Corporal Barbara Ester was fatally stabbed January 20, 2012, by Inmate Latavious Johnson at East Arkansas Regional Unit.
The Cummins Unit increased in size by 300 beds with the opening of a new modular unit. Cummins and Tucker received new HVAC systems, retrofitted lighting and other energy efficiency upgrades. The Arkansas Legislature passed Act 570, the Public Safety Improvement Act, which aims to reduce the projected prison population over the next 10 years. The Tucker Unit rededicated the Island of Hope Chapel on May 13 after extensive renovations. The first Coretta Scott King Day was held at the Hawkins Center for Women February 15th.
Larry Norris retired as Director of the Department of Correction after serving in that position since 1993. He was the longest serving Director of Corrections in the United States at the time of his retirement. Ray Hobbs was named director by the Board of Corrections in June. The Boot Camp Program relocated from the Wrightsville Unit to the Tucker Unit exchanging locations with the IFI program in an effort to maximize usage of existing beds. The Department’s regional maintenance crews began participating in a “gleaning” project to assist the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance. Upgrades to the state’s secure transaction system began to allow families and friends of inmates to make electronic deposits to inmate accounts via smart phones. The Department provided data to the Justice Mapping Center to assist with the development of a National Atlas of Sentencing and Corrections. Dina Tyler was named assistant director of the new Public Services Division, which includes Research & Planning, Public Information, Policy, Volunteer Services and Library Services.
The Department of Correction opened 200 new beds at the McPherson Unit in August and opened 100 beds of the Special Needs Unit at the Ouachita River Correctional Facility in May. The High School Correctional Program (HSCP) was initiated in partnership with the Department of Workforce Education, the American Correctional Association, and the National Center in Law, Public Safety, Corrections and Security. This nationally recognized certification program for high school and community college students allows certified applicants to enter employment with the ADC as an Officer First Class. The ADC began collecting Driver’s Licenses and other ID’s for sentenced persons to ease the transition back to the community upon release. The Arkansas Escape Alert System was activated in February with an eOMIS interface that allows registered persons to receive notification of any escape and recapture. The development of the Electronic Sex Offender Management of Arkansas (eSOMA) created a real time interface between eOMIS and the ACIC Sex Offender Registry as a solution to sex offender management for the state. The ADC entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Old State House Museum to provide ADC artifacts to be included in a display titled “Badges, Bandits and Bars.” In May there was a $29,000,000 bond issue for construction of the McPherson Special needs Unit, the Tucker Wastewater treatment plant and several energy efficiency projects.
ADC’s training facility was dedicated as the Willis H. Sargent Training Academy on August 23rd. Sargent served as the first academy administrator and as a warden. Work began on the development of a water use/irrigation system at the Tucker Unit and Maximum Security Unit. The ADC received the coveted Golden Eagle Award. Presented at the American Correctional Association’s 137th Annual Congress of Correction conference in August, the award is for those states whose institutions and programs are completely accredited by ACA. In September, the ADC launched a new employee benevolent association: the Arkansas Association of Correctional Employees Trust (AACET). The Information Technology Division began hiring technicians to provide onsite desktop support at each ADC unit and the agency introduced a new entrance monitoring system that will integrate with eOMIS. The system was first tested at the Varner and Delta Regional Units to monitor visitors. A pilot program that has inmates sewing glove liners for firefighters’ leather gloves was launched at the Pine Bluff Unit by Arkansas Correctional Industries (ACI). The Varner Unit held a ribbon-cutting ceremony October 2nd for its new mental health building. Patterned after the popular Phenomenal Woman Seminar, ADC held its first Distinguished Gentleman Seminar on October 22nd. Family and friends of inmates were granted the option of pre-paying for inmates’ calls using a credit card. Curtis Pittman, an inmate at the Maximum Security Unit, was convicted of three counts of indecent exposure October 24 in Jefferson County District Court. It marked the first time that an inmate faced indecent exposure charges in court. Inmates now face the possibility of having additional time added to their sentences if they are convicted of indecent exposure. The state agreed to purchase the former Jefferson County Jail (JCJ) adjacent to a correctional facility operated by the ADC in Pine Bluff. The 106-bed jail, which opened in 1991, was sold for $3 million and was renamed the Randall L. Williams Correctional Facility, in honor of Randall L. Williams, a former Jefferson County circuit judge who had also served as chairman of the Board of Corrections. For the first time in four years, the ADC had more than 1,000 inmates being housed in county jails due to lack of prison space. AACET hosted the “Roasting of the Director” on February 7th as a fundraiser for the association. The ADC surpassed its $80,000 goal for the 2007 United Way campaign, generating $88,710.02 in pledges and donations. A record 873 inmates earned their GED. The ADC, along with the Department of Community Correction and Arkansas Crime Information Center, offered the public the Arkansas Escape Alert System. It allows citizens living in the vicinity of a ADC unit, or DCC center, for automated notification in the event of an escape. Under an agreement reached in June, the ADC presented dozens of historical artifacts to the Old State House Museum. Roger Ferrell, a Regional Maintenance Lieutenant at the Mississippi County Work Release Center, was named Outstanding State Employee of the Year.
Director Larry Norris was selected Outstanding Director of Corrections for 2006 by the Association of State Correctional Administrators. The Department implemented a new working classification of Deputy Warden. The 200-bed J. Aaron Hawkins, Sr. Center for Women at Wrightsville was dedicated on October 27, 2006. Videoconferencing equipment was installed at Delta Regional, East Arkansas, North Central, Grimes, Central Office and the Administration East Annex. The equipment will help with training and reduce travel time. Inmates in the Riverside Vo-Tech School helped build walls, kitchen cabinets and countertops for a Jefferson County Habitat for Humanity House. The Board of Corrections voted to expand the ADC’s contract with Correctional Medical Services to include providing psychiatric care to inmates. Construction began on an 862-bed addition to the Ouachita River Correctional Unit for inmates with special needs. The Innerchange Freedom Initiative program was dedicated on December 1, 2006 at the Hawkins Center for Women. The faith-based program, which began at the Tucker Unit, is designed to help inmates change their lives and reduce the likelihood of returning to prison. Funded by churches and organizations, construction began on the chapel at the Maximum Security Unit. Soon after a powerful tornado ripped through Dumas on February 24, 2007, staff members from the ADC headed to the community to help. Along with other agencies, they searched for victims and provided security in the area. Inmate work crews helped clear away debris. The ADC announced plans to start its own benevolent-type employee association called Arkansas Association of Correctional Employees Trust (AACET). The state legislature eliminated the Career Ladder Incentive Program, which encouraged employees to develop the skills necessary for effective job performance and become eligible for career advancement within the ADC. A similar program called the Merit Incentive/Promotion System (MIPS) replaced CLIP. Continuing a winning tradition, ADC teams won several top honors during the 2007 Southern State Field Trials. ADC took first place in Single Lease, Pack Dog, Narcotic Detection and Marksmanship. Construction began on the 200-female bed vocational technical and education wing at the McPherson Unit. Act 1692 went into effect. It expands sexual assault in the third degree to include “anyone employed or contracted with or otherwise providing services, supplies or supervision to any agency maintaining custody of inmates, detainees or juveniles.”
Construction began for the planned 200-bed women’s facility at Wrightsville. The prison, adjacent the boot camp, will help accommodate the state’s growing female inmate population. The facility will provide additional treatment space and additional housing for inmates assigned to the Special Needs Program. In May, the center was officially named the J. Aaron Hawkins Center for Women at Wrightsville as a memorial to Pastor J. Aaron Hawkins, who served on the Board of Corrections from April 12, 2000 until January 23, 2006. The center partially opened on May 4, 2006, admitting its first 25 inmates. The population had grown to 98 by the end of the month. In July 2005, the addition of a Mental Health Building opened at the McPherson Unit. This marked a positive step in dealing with mental health problems associated with the female inmate population. The building has offices for mental health staff and areas for confidential counseling and group meetings. A package of legislation to help the Arkansas Department of Correction deal with prison overcrowding and increasing incarceration costs went into effect August 12. The bills were sponsored by Senator Jim Luker and Representative Will Bond. Included in the legislation was a measure that allows methamphetamine offenders serving 70 percent of their sentence to shorten their incarceration through good behavior. The change allows them to earn some good time, but they still must serve as least 50 percent of their original sentence. The change only affects offenders whose crime occurred after the law went into effect. Another new law allows inmates to earn 90 days good time for successful completion of drug treatment, GED education or vocational education. The Arkansas Department of Correction hosted the National Major Gang Task Force 11th Annual Training Conference in Little Rock on September 11-14. James Gibson, ADC Internal Affairs Administrator, served as the organization’s president. The NMGTF provides leadership and information within the criminal justice system to minimize the effects of security threat groups, gangs, and terrorists is prisons, jails, and communities. The Arkansas State Employees Association named Roy Agee, intake supervisor at the Diagnostic Unit, Outstanding State Employee of the Year on August 5 in Hot Springs. After Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast on August 29, the ADC staff, employee associations and employees of Correctional Medical Services helped out with a variety of relief efforts including donations, fundraisers, and volunteering at local shelters. In addition to donating to the Red Cross and other relief efforts, ADC and CMS employees provided more than $23,000 to relief efforts for correctional officers in Louisiana and Mississippi. A new factory that is part of the Prison Industry Enhancement (PIE) Program began operating at the McPherson Unit. PIE programs create partnerships between private sector employers and detention facilities to help inmates receive job training and employment experience that will help them transition back into society. Actronix, Inc. was awarded the Department’s first PIE contract. It is an Arkansas-based company that manufactures cable assemblies, and harnesses for the technology Industry. Inmates who qualify for the program are paid by the company and must send money to those they are supporting, donate to a crime victims’ fund, and save some money. On November 9, 2005, the Arkansas Board of Corrections approved $40 million in bond money to fund an 862-bed special needs facility at the Ouachita River Correction Unit. The revenue bonds will be issued through the Arkansas Development Finance Authority. The Special Needs Unit (SNU) will be constructed in three phases, all utilizing inmate labor. When completed, the facility will house the Department’s special inmate populations including geriatrics, mental health, chronically ill, and disabled inmates. In February 2006, Wendy Kelley joined ADC as the new Deputy Director for Health and Correctional Programs. She previously served as a Deputy Attorney General for the State of Arkansas. During her 14-year tenure with the AG’s office, Kelley often represented the Department in court proceedings, and she most recently represented the ADC in agreement with the United States Justice Department concerning continued improvements at the Newport Complex. She replaced Dr. Max Mobley, who retired in January after nearly 30 years with the agency. ADC teams won top honors at the 2006 Southern States Manhunt Field Trials on March 20-24 at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock. Some of those awards included first place -Tucker Unit Single Lease and first place – EARU – Multiple Lease and first place – Cummins Unit-Pack Dogs. The Department swept the team marksmanship competition and the pack-dog competition. The Cummins pack won first place, the Tucker Unit took second, and East Arkansas Regional earned third. K9 Max, a bloodhound whose home is the Diagnostic Unit, was named “Best Looking Canine.” The event drew 60 teams from six southern states. June 1, 2006, marked the dedication of the new Inner-Change Freedom Initiative (IFI) at the Tucker Unit. IFI is a voluntary program aimed at morally transforming in mates and helping them develop life skills needed for a successful re-entry to society. The faith-based program is funded mostly by churches. At the program’s kick off, Governor Mike Huckabee delivered the key note address. “I’m thrilled about being able to get the Inner-Change Program here,” the Governor said. “It’s a wonderful thing. It’s a program that is funded privately, and it’s of great benefit to the state.”
In FY2005, $3 medical co-pay went into effect in an effort to reduce the number of frivolous sick-call visits and give medical staff more time to spend with those who are truly ill. More than $39 million was approved during the 2005 legislation session to build a 850-bed Specials Needs Unit at the Ouachita River Correctional Unit in Malvern. Legislators also made the smuggling of a cell phone into a prison a Class B felony and expanded the customer base for Arkansas Correctional Industries. Employees of state agencies and institutions may purchase goods produced by ACI. New legislation also provided extra good time for inmates who earn a GED, complete drug treatment or receive a Vo-Tech training certificate. Inmates convicted of meth crimes after August 12, 2005 and sentenced under the 70 percent law will be allowed to earn good time, but not as much as other drug offenders. Lawmakers also approved a cost of living adjustment for employees for each year of the biennium and changed the name of the Post Prison Transfer Board to The Board of Parole. Construction of a factory got underway at the McPherson Unit for use by a private manufacturing company. Under the new private sector Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program, the company has contracted with the ADC and will employ inmates at the facility. The Board of Corrections voted to establish The Inner-Change Freedom Initiative, a voluntary faith-based pre and post release program that is funded by private contributions. ADC continued to see growth in its prison population, especially women. In August 2004, the number of female inmates backed up in county jails reached 200, setting a new record. An additional 316 beds, Phase II, opened at the Ouachita River Correctional Unit in December 2004. That unit, which opened its first 316 beds in August 2003, is set to have 948 beds when completed in 2005. The Department also planned a 200-bed women’s barrack at Wrightsville. In March 2005, the State Board of Corrections approved an Internet banking system that provides another way for friends and families of Arkansas inmates to put funds on their ADC account.
During FY2004, Phase I of the Ouachita River Correctional Unit, with 316 beds, opened at Malvern. In Phases II and III, an additional 632 beds will be added to the medium-security men’s prison, expected to be completed in 2005. On Jan. 6, convicted murder Charles Singleton was executed by lethal injection at the Cummins Unit for the 1979 death of a Hamburg grocer. He had spent 24 years on death row. The Department received a $3.8 million loan from the Arkansas Development Finance Authority to assist in building new processing plants at its prison farm and to restructure an existing loan. Plans called for using $2 million of the loan to build a new milk processing plant and a meat processing and cold storage facility at the Cummins Unit. The remaining $1.8 million was to be used to restructure a loan the department took out in 1999 to pay for numerous projects. In June 2004, legislators approved funding for a new 200-bed women’s unit at Wrightsville. Legislators first approved the project in 1999 but plans were halted in November 2001 because of budget reductions.
In FY2003, ADC spent approximately $44.11 per day to house each inmate – almost a 4 percent increase over the previous ear. On July 1, 2002, the Department assumed management of the Grimes and McPherson units that had been privately managed by Wackenhut Corrections Corporation. Since opening in January 1998. Convicted murderer Riley Dobi Noel was executed July 9 by lethal injection at the Cummins Unit. The inmate population set a record high when it reached 13,099 in November 2002. More than 1,200 of the inmates were backed up in the county jails due to a lack of prison space. In December, Cummins became the first Arkansas prison to be in continuous operation for 100 years. Cummins received its first inmates by riverboat on Dec. 13, 1902. A century later, it houses nearly 1,800 inmates and is the department’s largest and oldest prison.
Faced with the state’s first budget cuts in 14 years, the ADC trimmed more than $22 million from its operating budget. The 11percent reduction in funding forced a six-month delay in opening the first phase of the new unit being constructed at Malvern and delayed opening 200 beds of the Grimes Unit expansion. Construction for 200 beds for female inmates, was planned at the Wrightsville Unit, but put on hold due to the funding shortfall. More than $1.2 million was paid out to ADC employees in bonuses through the Career Ladder Incentive Program during FY2002 and 451 employees received CLIP promotions. After added emphasis was placed on recruitment and retention, turnover of entry-level correctional officers fell from 42 percent to 37.2 percent.
In August, the name of the Board of Correction and Community Punishment was changed to the Board of Corrections, to reflect the name change of the Department of Community Punishment to the Department of Community Correction. After three and a half years of managing the Grimes and McPherson Units, Wackenhut Corrections Corporation chose not to seek a contract renewal. The ADC assumed management of the facilities in July. Clay King Smith, sentenced to death in Jefferson County on five counts of capital murder, was executed by lethal injection May 8. The rate at which county jails are paid to house state inmates was increased from $25 a day to $28 by the Board of Corrections. To partially fund the increase, the reimbursement rate for Act 309 inmates was trimmed from $25 a day to $15. Kelly Pace was appointed to the Board of Corrections by Governor Mike Huckabee. For the first time, the three units at the Pine Bluff Complex were placed under the supervision of one warden. Institutional Parole Services was transferred from the Department of Correction to the Department of Community Correction. Gate money was increased from $50 to $100 by the Board of Corrections. An inmate search engine was added to the Department’s website, allowing internet visitors to view information and pictures of any ADC inmates. The agency’s Construction and Maintenance Division was named “Best in the Business” by the Association of State Correctional Administrators.
The Board of Correction and Community Punishment chose a 400-acre site in Malvern as the location of a medium security prison for males. Originally slated for 760 beds, the facility’s size was increased to 948 beds. Several sections housed in the Central Office, located on Princeton Pike in Pine Bluff, were relocated to the old Brandon House building on East Harding Avenue. The building was renamed the Administration Annex East, and it became the new home of Human Resources and Information Systems. As part of a new 20-year lease agreement with the county, the ADC began major renovations at the Mississippi Work Release Center. The first 156 beds at the Varner Supermax opened. The housing area is the first of its kind in Arkansas, and a federal grant provided 90% of the construction costs. After 20 years in the old Barnes School building, the Training Academy moved next door to the Maximum Security and Tucker Units. In January, the ADC went tobacco-free for staff and inmates. All tobacco products were banned. Citing health and safety concerns, the BCCP implemented the ban after a one-year waiting period. The ban applies to buildings, areas inside perimeter fences and ADC vehicles. Construction of Arkansas’s first lethal electrified fence was completed at the Cummins Unit. The fence, which carries a current of 5,000 volts, was erected using inmate labor. Christina Riggs, convicted of killing her two children, was executed by lethal injection May 2, becoming the first female to be put to death by the State of Arkansas. David Dewayne Johnson was executed by lethal injection December 19. Dr. Mary Parker was selected as the new chair of the Board of Correction and Community Punishment, which also received two new members. Pastor J. Aaron Hawkins of Fayetteville and Bill Ferren of Pine Bluff were appointed to the board by Governor Huckabee. At the Tucker Unit, Department’s last 100-man barracks was to be split into two smaller barracks. As part of its strategic plan and in preparation of performance based budgeting, the ADC developed a new Mission Statement, Guiding Principles and Core Values. Sixty correctional officers were sworn in as certified peace officers, bringing the agency’s total to approximately 100. The Constituent Services Office was created to enhance communication with the family and friends of inmates.
The ADC and the Arkansas Crime Information Center activated the statewide VINE (Victim Information and Notification Everyday) system. Construction began in September on a 468-bed addition at the Varner Unit, which will be the State’s first Supermax facility. The janitorial products factory opened in September at the Delta Regional Unit. To keep its population from falling below 50,000, the City of Pine Bluff planned to annex the Pine Bluff Complex and its 1,400 inmates. In February, 36 correctional officers were sworn in as certified law enforcement officers, the first ADC class to complete the training. Officer James D. Cannon was seriously injured in an attack by an inmate at the Maximum Security Unit. Johnie Michael Cox and Marion Pruett, were both executed by lethal injection on February 16 and April 12, respectively. Alan Willett and Mark Edward Gardner were executed by lethal injection September 8. Governor Mike Huckabee’s commutation of Bobby Ray Fretwell’s death sentence was the first for a death row inmate since December 1970. Governor Huckabee appointed Benny Magness and Drew Baker to the Board of Correction and Community Punishment. Legislation from the 1999 General Assembly placed responsibility for assessing sex offenders with the ADC and required Legislative Council and Board of Correction and Community Punishment review and approval prior to construction of any private correctional facility to house ADC, out of State or Federal inmates.
The Department of Correction began paying wages owed for past compensatory time and overtime earned to more than 2,000 correctional officers. The State’s first privately managed prisons, both 600-bed facilities named for correctional officers killed in the line of duty, opened at Newport in January. The Grimes Unit houses youthful male offenders and the McPherson Unit holds female inmates. An expansion at the East Arkansas Regional Unit added 200 medium and 216 maximum beds. The Boot Camp was named “Best of the Best” by the American Correctional Association. The Board of Correction and Community Punishment adopted a grooming policy requiring inmates to have short haircuts and no beards. Collection of DNA samples began for inmates convicted of violent or sexual offenses after a new State law went into effect in August. Wilburn Henderson was executed by lethal injection July 8. Preparations began for the State’s first lethal electrified fence, which was erected at the Cummins Unit. After raising more than $185,000 in donations, a new chapel opened at the East Arkansas Regional Unit. A new school building opened at the Delta Unit in May. A GED graduation record was set when 865 inmates earned their GED in ADC class rooms.
Kirt Douglas Wainright, Earl Van Denton and Paul Ruiz were executed by lethal injection January 8. Legislation authorized lethal electrified fences at the medium and maximum security facilities. Construction of 200 beds at the North Central Unit and 400 beds at the East Arkansas Regional Unit was completed. New classrooms opened in May at the Pine Bluff Unit. Pastor Silas Johnson was appointed to the Board of Correction and Community Punishment, replacing the Rev. Hezekiah Stewart. Eugene Wallace Perry was executed by lethal injection August 6, and for the first time members of the victim’s family could view the execution on a video monitor at the Cummins Unit. A U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit involving the ADC’s past hiring and promotional practices of female employees were settled. Construction of the State’s first privately managed correctional facilities was completed in December at Newport.
The Department of Correction contracted with Wackenhut Corrections Corporation in June, to build and manage two 600-bed adult correctional facilities at Newport. Alvin Jackson, who was convicted June 20 of the fatal stabbing of Sgt. Scott Grimes, was sentenced to death for capital murder. The ADC contracted with a jail in Bowie County, Texas, to house up to 500 Arkansas inmates. William F. Parker was executed August 8. An Office of Emergency Preparedness was established by the ADC. The Department’s oldest and largest facility, the Cummins Unit, was accredited by the American Correctional Association. With that accreditation, the ADC became one of only nine states to be fully accredited by the ACA. The inmate grievance procedure was certified by the U. S. Department of Justice. A 100-bed barracks was constructed at the Maximum Security Unit. The PASS Program (Prisoners of Arkansas Striving for Success) was created at the Varner Unit to address problem inmates.
The East Arkansas Regional Unit became the first facility to incorporate the new inmate telephone system. Richard Wayne Snell was executed by lethal injection April 19. The meritorious furlough program was reinstated in June. Barry Lee Fairchild was executed by lethal injection August 31. Sgt. Scott Grimes was fatally stabbed November 29, by Maximum Security Unit inmate Alvin Jackson. The Bi-State Detention Center was certified by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.
An eight-year investigation ended when the U.S. Attorney General notified the Governor that living conditions at the Cummins and Tucker Units met standards. The Maximum Security and Varner Units were reaccredited by the American Correctional Association. Edward Charles Pickens and Jonas Hoten Whitmore were executed by lethal injection May 11. Hoyt Clines, James Holmes, and Darryl Richley were executed August 3. Meritorious furloughs were discontinued in August, after a furloughed inmate absconded. At the first meeting of the new Board of Correction and Community Punishment, Circuit Judge Randall Williams was selected chairman. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held in September for the Department’s prison museum, which was the second state prison museum in the country. A Boot Camp program for females was approved November 16, and the boot camp capacity was increased to 180.
1993 Legislation eliminated the Board of Correction and created the Board of Correction and Community Punishment. Parole Services was transferred to the Department of Community Punishment. Some non-violent offenders were transferred judicially from the Department of Correction to the Department of Community Punishment for housing in lower security community punishment centers. Legislation changed the name of the Board of Parole and Community rehabilitation to the Post Prison Transfer Board, and enabled offenders to be transferred to community punishment programs. The Arkansas Sentencing Commission was created. Good time was eliminated for sentence reduction and allowed only for computing transfer eligibility to community punishment programs. The Act 814 work/study program and the Act 378 alternative community service program were eliminated. Legislation required the Governor to file a 30-day notice with the Secretary of State before granting clemency. The Plasma Program was discontinued March 18. Roger Endell resigned as director May 15, and Larry Norris was reappointed Interim Director. Capacities increased by 400 at the East Arkansas Regional Unit and by 100 at the Jefferson County Jail/Correctional Facility. Capacity at Cummins decreased by 100. Female inmates were transferred from the Pine Bluff Unit to the Tucker Unit. Male inmates were transferred from the Tucker Unit to the Varner Unit. The Pine Bluff Unit began housing male inmates working at the Pine Bluff complex. The first female hoe squad turned out for work June 16. A chancery court ruled the reimbursement rate for housing State inmates in county jails. This was set by the State, not the counties. A Federal Judge declared that prison security outweighs privacy rights of female inmates. An Arkansas Supreme Court ruling allowed inmates to review their files if Arkansas Freedom of Information Act guidelines were followed. Because of a lawsuit filed by the Arkansas Attorney General, an inmate who inherited more than $500,000 while incarcerated, had to reimburse the state $13,723.68 for his care and custody. The Delta Regional and North Central Units were accredited by the American Correctional Association. A total of 384 temporary beds were added at the East Arkansas Regional Unit, Delta Regional Unit, and Jefferson County Jail/ Correctional Facility. An airstrip and parking area opened at the North Central Unit. Larry Norris was named director.
East Arkansas Regional Unit at Brickeys was established and set its capacity at 200. All furloughs were suspended after the escape of a furloughed inmate, but work release furloughs were later reinstated. A. L. Lockhart resigned as Director May 29th and Larry Norris was appointed Interim Director. Roger Endell was appointed Director in November. The Board of Correction adopted by-laws for its operations. The Boot Camp was accredited by the ACA. Diagnostic Unit capacity increased to 567. Rickey Ray Rector was executed by lethal injection January 24th and Steven Douglas Hill was executed by the same method May 7th. A Federal jury found the Department had erred in classifying parole officers as professional employees, which exempted them from over time compensation. Because of a court order, the Board of Correction adopted a policy recognizing inmate name changes for religious purposes. A jury found that assignments to administrative segregation had not violated the rights of five hoe squad workers.
Act 771 allowed early release of terminally ill inmates. Act 307 authorized electronic monitoring devices for community supervision. Act 263 created the Correction Resources Commission. Free tobacco rationing to inmates was discontinued. The Department purchased 2,949 acres to build a 600-bed facility at Brickeys in Lee County. Capacities were increased to 438 at the Women’s Unit, 700 at the Wrightsville Unit, 325 at the Benton Unit, 400 at the Delta Regional Unit, and 150 at the Boot Camp and the North Central Unit. Riverside Vo-Tech moved from the Cummins Unit to the Varner Unit. The American Correctional Association accredited Central Office policies and procedures.
1990 Capacities increased to 1,100 at the Varner Unit and 71 at the Mississippi County Work Release Center. The Board of Correction named the Delta Regional Unit at Dermott and the North Central Unit at Calico Rock, and also approved a 60-bed Boot Camp program at the Wrightsville Unit. The100-bed Delta Regional Unit, the 100-bed North Central Unit, and the 400-bed Jefferson County Jail/Correctional Facility opened. In the first Arkansas executions since 1964, John Edward Swindler was executed by electrocution and Ronald Gene Simmons by lethal injection.
Act 492 established the Boot Camp program. Act 429 provided for additional meritorious good time for inmates completing certain programs while awaiting transfer to the Department from county jails. The Department was reorganized into divisions for operations: Administrative Services, Field Services, Institutions, and Treatment Services. One Deputy Director and three Assistant Directors were appointed by the Director. Construction began on the Jefferson County Jail Correctional Facility to house 328 state inmates and 72 jail inmates. Capacities increased to 650 at the Wrightsville Unit and 900 at the Varner Unit. The American Correctional Association (ACA) accredited the Diagnostic and Wrightsville Units. Act 937 abolished the Board of Pardons and Paroles and the Commission on Community-Based Rehabilitation. The Act also created the Board of Parole and Community Rehabilitation.
The National Commission on Correctional Health Care accredited the ADC’s medical services. The American Correctional Association accredited the Varner and Maximum Security Units. The ADC purchased 485 acres for a 300-bed facility at Calico Rock and 90 acres for a 476-bed unit at Dermott. The industry program for female inmates was relocated to the Training Academy. Capacity at the Wrightsville Unit increased to 550. After 14 years of litigation, the Jones and Davis vs. Hutto class-action lawsuit alleging racial discrimination was settled by consent decree.
The 300-bed Varner Unit opened and its capacity was increased to 700 beds. The Women’s Unit capacity increased to 288. Act 626 allowed inmates awaiting transfer to the Department, from county jails, to earn meritorious good time. Act 273 provided for additional meritorious good time for job performance. Act 418, the Prison Overcrowding Emergency Powers Act, authorized the Board of Correction to declare prison overcrowding a state of emergency when population exceeds 98% of the rated capacity for 30 consecutive days. The board invoked the Emergency Powers Act, for the first time, releasing 96 inmates.
Death Row inmates were transferred from the Cummins Unit to the Maximum Security Unit, where the capacity was increased to 432.
Capacities increased to 119 at Texarkana Regional Correction Center and to 324 at the Maximum Security Unit. The Booneville Beef Production Facility was transferred to the Wrightsville Unit.
The annual prison rodeo was discontinued by the Board of Correction.
The 32-bed Texarkana Regional Correction Center, the first 108 beds at the Maximum Security Unit, and the 200-bed Cummins Modular Unit opened. Capacities increased to 120 at the Tucker Modular Unit and to 70 at the Mississippi County Work Release Center. Lethal injection was named as the State’s method of execution. Act 309 enabled the Department to enter into contractual agreement with counties for inmate labor. Act 814 allowed housing of inmates, in approved locations, outside of the Department. Act 230 provided for early parole of some nonviolent offenders.
After 13 years of litigation, Federal Judge G. Thomas Eisele ruled the Arkansas prison system constitutional, making it the first State system to be held constitutional after being declared unconstitutional. Capacities increased to 420 at the Wrightsville Unit, 488 at the Diagnostic Unit, 175 at the Women’s Unit, and 50 at the Mississippi County Work Release Center. The capacity was decreased to four at the Booneville Beef Production Facility. The 100-bed Tucker Modular Unit opened.
A.L. Lockhart was appointed Director and served until 1992. The State transferred the Boy’s Training School at Wrightsville to the Department of Correction, which began using the facility to house 300 adult male inmates. The 250-bed Diagnostic Unit opened at the Pine Bluff Complex. Capacity at the Women’s Unit was increased to 146 beds and the facility was accredited by the American Correctional Association.
A 16-bed Northwest Arkansas Work Release Center opened at Springdale.
The ADC’s Central Office moved to the Pine Bluff Complex. Vernon Housewright was appointed Director and served until 1981. The Barnes School complex in Pine Bluff was leased for an ADC training facility.
A new death chamber was built at the Cummins Unit. Brozene (inmate money) was discontinued and replaced by scrip coupons.
The U.S. Supreme Court declared capital punishment constitutional. Female inmates were moved from the Cummins Unit to the 128-bed Pine Bluff Unit. 1978 A new death chamber was built at the Cummins Unit.
The first work release center, with 60 beds, opened at Benton. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, citing continued shortcomings, ordered Judge J, Smith Henley to retain jurisdiction over the Arkansas prison system. Death Row inmates were moved from the Tucker Unit to the Cummins Unit. Sixty-seven inmates received certificates at the Tucker Unit during the department’s first G.E.D. graduation.
Act 279 created the Department of Correction School District. In Holt v. Sarver III, Judge J. Smith Henley, citing continued deficiencies but substantial improvements in prison operations, released the department from his jurisdiction. Petitioner appeals were consolidated into Finney v. Hutto.
The U.S. Supreme Court declared capital punishment to be unconstitutional under existing procedures. The Pine Bluff City council and “Fifty For the Future,” a group of business leaders, donated 80 acres for what would become the Pine Bluff Complex. The first prison rodeo was held at the Cummins Unit.
In Holt v. Sarver II, Judge Henley enjoined the prison system from inflicting cruel and unusual punishment on inmates and interfering with their access to court.
In Holt v. Sarver II, Judge Henley ruled the Arkansas prison system unconstitutional–the only one in the nation so judged–and ordered the State Correction Board to present a plan of action. State Police were assigned to the Cummins Unit during a riot sparked by inmate demands for racially segregated housing. Governor Winthrop Rockefeller commuted the sentences of 15 Death Row inmates.
In Holt v. Sarver I, Judge J. Smith Henley declared several aspects of the prison system unconstitutional, issued guidelines and ordered administrators to report corrective actions.
Thomas Murton alleged that human skeletons found at the Cummins Unit were the remains of inmates beaten to death and secretly buried. A medical examiner’s investigation did not positively conclude the remains were inmates. Act 50 reorganized the State Penitentiary system into the Arkansas Department of Correction. In Jackson v. Bishop, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the abolishment of corporal punishment.
Governor Orval Faubus ordered an investigation August 19 into allegations of extortion, misuse of state property and inmate drunkenness. Superintendent O.E. Bishop fired all free world employees at Tucker. Severe riots erupted September 5 at the Cummins farm. State Police used tear gas to end a September 14 strike attempt by 144 Cummins inmates.
In Talley v. Stephens, federal Judge J. Smith Henley restricted corporal punishment use until adequate safeguards could be established, enjoined prison officials from interfering with inmate access to courts and required improvements in medical services and care.
Charles Fields was the last inmate executed at Tucker before the death penalty was declared unconstitutional.
Act 351 created a State Reformatory for Women and transferred the functions, powers and duties of the Training School for Girls to the State Penitentiary. White female inmates were moved from the State Farm for Women to the Cummins farm. Black female inmates already were at Cummins and Tucker.
Act 1 created the State Penitentiary Board.
Governor J. Futrell closed “The Walls,” and inmates were moved to the Cummins and Tucker farms. The death chamber was relocated to the Tucker farm.
About 4,400 acres were puchased for the Tucker farm.
For $140,000, about 10,000 acres were purchased for the Cummins farm. Inmates occupied the site the same year. 1913 Act 55 authorized a permanent death chamber within the penitentiary system. Lee Sims, convicted of rape, was the first inmate executed by the state.
Legislation relocated the penitentiary to a 15-acre site southwest of Little Rock. The facility, commonly known as “The Walls,” opened in 1910.
After the civil war, the penitentiary returned to state control.
The U.S. Army seized the penitentiary and operated it as a civil and military prison. Troops hanged 17 year old David O. Dodd at the penitentiary.
Legislation allowed good time to be awarded to inmates for good behavior.
A 92.41 acre tract was purchased for the first penitentiary at the site of what is now the Arkansas State Capital.
Governor James S. Conway signed legislation establishing the State Penitentiary.