Arkansas Prisons

Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito

A U.S. Supreme Court justice has denied a request for more time made by attorneys for nine Arkansas death row inmates challenging the state Supreme Court's June ruling that upheld the state's execution secrecy law and three-drug protocol.

Associate Justice Samuel Alito denied the request for more time to file a petition at the federal high court Monday. A reason for the denial was not immediately given, but the petition will be due Oct. 19.

Lawyers for the inmates, eight of whom had been scheduled for Arkansas' first executions in a decade, asked for a 30-day extension.

Michael Sabbie
Huffington Post

A video has surfaced of an inmate who died at a privately run Texarkana jail more than a year ago. It shows 35- year-old Michael Sabbie, who was pepper sprayed and restrained, repeatedly telling corrections officers that he could not breathe. He died a short time later.

State Police say a correctional officer has been taken into custody following a standoff at a prison in southeastern Arkansas

The incident began Saturday morning at the Delta Regional Unit in Dermott. Authorities say the 24-year-old officer had access to a rifle and refused orders to leave an observation tower.

Arkansas Department of Correction spokesman Solomon Graves says the standoff was resolved without incident more than eight hours later. Graves says no one was injured.

McPherson Prison Unit in Newport
Arkansas Department of Correction

A campaign aiming to reduce the prison population in Arkansas plans to unveil its legislative goals at a public meeting Thursday.

The Arkansas Department of Correction will dedicate a facility that's being named in honor of a correctional officer who was killed in the line of duty.

The agency will formally dedicate the Barbara Ester Unit in Pine Bluff on Wednesday morning. The new unit is on the grounds of the Pine Bluff Complex and is the agency's first re-entry facility for inmates who are preparing to transition out of the prison system and into the community.

The unit also includes the department's first barracks designated for military veterans.

Authorities are investigating the death of a 25-year-old inmate who was found unresponsive at a maximum-security prison in Arkansas.

Arkansas Department of Correction spokesman Solomon Graves says guards at the Tucker Unit found Isaiah Chandler unconscious in his cell at about 10:15 a.m. Sunday. Graves says the officers and medical staff began emergency treatment, but Chandler was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

The death is under investigation by Arkansas State Police.

An execution drug obtained by the Arkansas prison system earlier this month appears to have been made by a subsidiary of Pfizer, even though Pfizer has said it doesn't want its drugs to be used in executions.

The Associated Press on Monday obtained redacted photos of the vecuronium bromide label from the Arkansas Department of Correction. It matches labels submitted to the National Institutes of Health by Hospira, Inc., which Pfizer bought last year.

Arkansas says it has a new supply of a drug used for lethal injections that had expired last month, potentially clearing the way for the state to resume executions after a decade-long hiatus.

The state Department of Correction on Tuesday said it had received a supply of vecuronium bromide with an expiration date of March 1, 2018. The state's previous supply of the paralytic expired on June 30.

The announcement comes less than a month after the Arkansas Supreme Court upheld a state law that keeps information about lethal injection drugs confidential.

An inmate who escaped a northwestern Arkansas jail, showed up at a nearby bar a week later, ordered a beer and declared he was turning himself in.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that 45-year-old Shaun Higham turned up Tuesday night at Mitch's Place in Paris, about 6 miles from the Logan County Jail. He was wearing a dirty prison uniform and covered in insect bites.

Logan County Sheriff Boyd Hicks says there had been no sightings of Higham since he picked a lock and fled the county jail on June 28.

A former Arkansas women's prison chaplain accused of coercing inmates into sex acts has pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual assault.

Prosecuting Attorney Henry Boyce says 67-year-old Kenneth Dewitt pleaded guilty on Tuesday in Jackson County Circuit Court. Boyce says Dewitt agreed to three concurrent 10-year prison sentences with five years suspended on each count. Formal sentencing is set for Aug. 3.