Arkansas Prisons

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

A non-profit is forming between Arkansas prison officials, community members, religious leaders, and the Department of Human Services, to address high recidivism rates, and overcrowding in the state’s foster care system.

Arkansas Department of Community Correction Chief Deputy Director Kevin Murphy said the effort is an extension of Governor Asa Hutchinson’s “restore hope” initiative.

An internet portal called the Good Grid, designed to assist Arkansas's former inmates in their transition back to society, is about to make its official launch. 


The story of the Good Grid began in 2011, when Nisha Garimalla was trying to improve her chances of getting into grad school for computer science at Stanford University.


McPherson Prison Unit in Newport
Arkansas Department of Correction

A former prison chaplain at an Arkansas women's prison is charged with sexually assaulting three inmates.

Prosecutor Henry Boyce announced Thursday that 50 counts of sexual assault charges had been filed against 67-year-old Kenneth Dewitt. The charging documents allege that DeWitt carried on sexual relationships with three inmates between 2013 and 2014.

Jeff Rosenzweig, an attorney representing Dewitt, says he is making arrangements to turn himself in to authorities.

Attorneys for death row inmates challenging Arkansas' execution secrecy law say the state Supreme Court should not continue to delay the disclosure of key information about the drugs the state plans to use in executions.

Lawyers for the attorney general's office have asked the justices to extend a temporary stay of an order from Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Wendell Griffen to give the inmates information about the maker and supplier of the drugs. The state has said it plans to appeal Griffen's overall ruling that the state's secrecy law is unconstitutional.

Bureau of Justice Statistics

Arkansas had one of the largest increases in jail population over a three year period compared with other states, according to a new report.


The Arkansas Supreme Court has granted the state's request to put on hold a mandate to turn over information about the source of its execution drugs.

The temporary stay was issued about an hour before a noon Friday deadline set by Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Wendell Griffen, who ruled the day before that the state must disclose the information.

The Arkansas attorney general's office asked for the stay and also has filed a notice that it will appeal Griffen's ruling. 

Pulaski County Judge Wendell Griffen

A state judge has struck down a portion of Arkansas' law that keeps confidential the source of its execution drugs.

Pulaski County District Court Wendell Griffen also ruled Thursday that the state must disclose details of the drugs by noon Friday. 

He sided with death row inmates who challenged a law passed by legislators this year that shielded the identity of drug suppliers. 

The three drugs Arkansas plans to use to execute eight inmates meet federal potency and purity requirements, according to a laboratory hired by the Arkansas Department of Correction.

Attorneys for the Arkansas attorney general's office submitted an affidavit Wednesday showing the department had hired an FDA-certified pharmaceutical testing laboratory to determine that the midazolam, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride obtained by the state last year meet federal standards for potency and purity.

Asa Hutchinson governor
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is urging lawmakers to take a new look at the state's sentencing guidelines to find ways to cut the disparities in jail time offenders may receive for the same crimes.

Hutchinson on Monday told a task force looking at the state's criminal justice system it should review the guidelines judges are given for sentencing offenders. The Republican governor said he believes the guidelines aren't being followed strongly enough and should be given more weight.

File photo. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R).
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge plans to appeal a June ruling from the Arkansas Supreme Court that said an inmate sentenced to life without parole for a killing he committed as a juvenile should be resentenced.

A spokesman for Rutledge says she will file a writ in early December requesting that the U.S. Supreme Court weigh in on whether mandatory life sentences for all prisoners convicted of crimes they committed as juveniles should be thrown out.