Arkansas Prisons

A group of teens play volleyball during recess at a youth lockup facility in Harrisburg in Northeast Arkansas. They are in custody for doing things like breaking and entering, possessing a firearm, or stealing a car, and they will be there anywhere from a few months to a couple of years.

Governor Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas’ governor called for additional safeguards at the state’s prisons on Friday after a string of violence that included three guards being assaulted by inmates and hospitalized a day earlier in separate attacks at two facilities.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he was greatly concerned by the incidents Thursday afternoon in which two guards were assaulted by several inmates at the Varner Unit hours after a guard was assaulted by a prisoner in another incident at the Maximum Security Unit in Tucker.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

An Arkansas official says three inmates who were injured in a disturbance at a state prison have returned to the facility after being treated at area hospitals.

Arkansas Department of Correction spokesman Solomon Graves says the three inmates who were hospitalized after Thursday night's disturbance at the Cummins Unit in Grady had swelling to the face. The department said Friday that inmates in a single housing area within the prison broke windows and damaged surveillance equipment.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas' top prison official says two disturbances at a maximum security facility began when prisoners managed to escape solitary fenced in areas during their recreation breaks.

One disturbance involved three officers being held hostage by inmates.

Correction Department Director Wendy Kelley spoke to lawmakers on Monday about last week's incident at the Maximum Security Unit in Tucker. She says it began when two inmates escaped from their solitary recreation pens and followed two officers escorting another inmate inside.

Solomon Graves Arkansas Department of Correction Tucker Maximum Security Prison
KATV, Channel 7 News

A maximum security prison in Arkansas is returning to normal operations after inmates snatched keys from three officers and held them in an area of the facility for about three hours.

Correction Department Spokesman Solomon Graves said the disturbance at the Maximum Security Unit in Tucker has been resolved, but did not provide further details about the six inmates who had taken the keys. The three officers had been released earlier Monday evening.

An inmate who had not been involved in the initial disturbance was taken to the hospital earlier Monday with injuries.

Pulaski County Judge Wendell Griffen
PBS

The Arkansas Parole Board is halting action under the state's new law that eliminates mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles after a judge said it's unconstitutional.

The United States Supreme Court ruled Monday that an Alabama death row inmate has the right to a mental health evaluation from a neutral party. Previously, such evaluations were done by doctors within state government. 

In April, Arkansas inmates Don Davis and Bruce Ward were granted stays of execution after asking for such independent evaluations.

The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of an Alabama inmate who complained that he didn't have an independent mental health expert to help him try to stave off a death sentence at his trial.

The justices divided 5-4 Monday in siding with inmate James McWilliams. He did not have his own expert when he was convicted of raping and killing a convenience store clerk in Tuscaloosa.

The justices had previously decided that poor defendants whose mental health might be a factor in the criminal charges they are facing have a right to an expert's evaluation.

http://www.goodgrid.com/

Arkansas Community Correction officials plan to continue operating an online portal that assists ex-convicts in their transition back to society. On Wednesday the state Board of Corrections approved a $50,000 contract for maintenance and upgrades to the Good Grid, a social media-like website. It allows former inmates to upload and build resumes and set up profiles accessible to prospective employers.

Arkansas prison officials have asked the state's highest court to stay a judge's order that they must disclose more information about one of the drugs they plan to use in the executions of eight men over a 10-day period in April.

The attorney general's office on Friday asked the state Supreme Court to issue a stay of Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen's order requiring Arkansas to release copies of the package insert and labels for its supply of potassium chloride, one of the three drugs used in its lethal injection protocol.

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