Arkansas Prisons

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an attempt by Arkansas inmates to stop their executions over claims that their deaths would be "intolerably painful."

The nine inmates asked the justices to review an Arkansas Supreme Court decision upholding a law that keeps secret the source of the lethal injection drugs. Justices on Tuesday handed down decisions in the Arkansas case, plus several other death row cases nationwide.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge says she will ask Gov. Asa Hutchinson to set execution dates for the inmates whose appeals have been exhausted.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has admonished Lincoln County's clerk over how her office handled court papers submitted by inmates unable to pay their filing fees.

Cindy Glover had previously pleaded not guilty to a contempt charge. Justices on Thursday said she agreed to accept an admonishment instead.

Arkansas has the fastest growing inmate population of any state nationwide, and it's forced the formation of a task force to propose reforms. Now that task force is asking for the policymaking powers of the General Assembly to achieve its aims.

Arkansas should move low-level offenders into community programs where data shows they are half as likely to re-offend, according to a consultant's report.

Board of Corrections chairman Benny Magness says the state has no choice.

“We have to do something, because we’re not going to be able to continue to build ourselves out of this. We have to continue to look at things. And we’ve been struggling with this for ten years, to find other ways to slow this population down.”

Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A state prison spokesman says one correctional officer suffered a minor injury after a disturbance Wednesday night at a maximum-security prison in Arkansas.

Arkansas Department of Correction spokesman Solomon Graves says about a dozen inmates broke barracks windows and set small trash fires within one housing area at the Varner Unit in Lincoln County, about 65 miles southeast of Little Rock.

Graves says correctional officers were able to "regain control" of the situation and that no inmates were injured during the incident.

Three Arkansas associations of county leaders have endorsed resolutions asking the state to make it a priority to fund services for the mentally ill.

The County Judges Association of Arkansas, Arkansas Sherriffs’ Association and the Quorum Court Association of Arkansas announced Wednesday they were supporting three proposals:

-The adequate funding of behavioral health and crisis services in jails

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.