Arkansas Prisons

prison jail department of correction
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

Arkansas Corrections officials say they are working to turn back rules that led to a steep increase in inmate numbers beginning in 2013. Projections indicate the state's inmate population will grow by almost 26,000 by the year 2025.

According to Department of Community Corrections spokeswoman, Dina Tyler, both the parole board and the correction board are preparing proposals for upcoming meetings to roll back stricter probation rules, with the goal of shortening the stay of low-risk re-offenders.

The Arkansas Department of Correction is asking the U.S. Department of Justice for details of its investigation into allegations of sexual abuse and harassment of prisoners at the McPherson Prison Unit in Newport, about 90 miles northeast of Little Rock.

The Arkansas Department of Correction says allegations of sexual misconduct at a women's prison in Newport that may have led to a federal investigation involve a former prison chaplain.

Department spokeswoman Cathy Frye said Friday that two inmates at the McPherson Unit told prison staff in December that they had a sexual relationship with the former chaplain for about 3 1/2 years.

The former chaplain's name was not released.

Arkansas prison and parole officials say about 70 percent of the state's more than 52,000 parolees and probationers have signed up for the state's compromise Medicaid expansion.

They told the Legislative Criminal and Justice Oversight Task Force on Thursday that enrollment in the 'private option' Medicaid program could reduce recidivism in the state's overcrowded prison system.

Republican state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson chairs the task force and said providing medical insurance provides parolees and probationers with mental health or substance abuse treatment at lesser costs.

Cummins arkansas department of correction prison
Arkansas Department of Correction

Prison officials are looking to pay Arkansas businesses and non-profits to help address the state’s over-crowded prisons and 43 percent recidivism rate.

prison jail department of correction
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has named 16 members to a legislative task force that will study the reforms enacted this year to ease a backlog of state prisoners in local jails.

Hutchinson on Monday named his appointees to the Legislative Criminal Justice Oversight Task Force, which is set to hold its first meeting on Thursday.

Hot Spring Co. Sheriffs Office

The Hot Spring County Sheriff's Office says authorities have captured a murder suspect who escaped from county jail.

Authorities said Monday that 24-year-old Cornell Huell was back in jail after escaping Sunday night.

Huell was being held on charges of capital murder, burglary and theft in connection to a February killing.

KATV-TV reports that sheriff's office officials believe Huell scaled a 20-foot fence and used a blanket to cover razor wire at the top.

It's unclear how he was apprehended on Monday.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A program that advocates say has saved the lives of hundreds of dogs while helping to rehabilitate Arkansas prison inmates was honored Friday at the state Capitol.

Paws in Prison, which was modeled on programs in other states, started in Arkansas in 2011 and matches dogs that are in animal shelters and otherwise would be euthanized with select prison inmates.

Doctor Mary Parker-Reed, vice-chair of the Arkansas Board of Corrections, says it has proven to be very effective.

The attorney for two Arkansas prison inmates who were sentenced to life without parole as juveniles told the state Supreme Court that both should be resentenced based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Jeff Rosenzweig argued Thursday to the state court meeting in Mountain Home that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling should be applied retroactively and Aaron Hodge and James Grubbs should each receive new sentencing hearings.

The Arkansas Department of Correction will soon begin transferring female inmates who are eligible for a work-release program into a new facility in Pine Bluff.

The department says the process of moving 54 inmates to the Pine Bluff Re-Entry Center will start on Saturday.

The department's work-release program is for inmates who are within 30 months of parole. Only those with non-violent convictions and clean disciplinary records are eligible.