Arkansas Prisons

Arkansas Dept. of Correction

The Arkansas Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence of an inmate convicted of killing his cellmate at a maximum security prison.

Robert Holland was convicted of capital murder in the 2012 strangulation of Matthew Scheile. According to court records, Holland had refused to have a cellmate but agreed to accept Scheile in his cell on Dec. 7, 2012. That same night, Scheile was found dead in the cell they shared at the Cummins unit.

Ouachita County Sheriff David Norwood says human error played a role in the escape of a suspected killer.

Austin Hill escaped Wednesday when he jumped out of a van at the county jail in Camden as it returned from a hospital. He remains at large.

Norwood told the Camden News that a gate was not immediately closed behind the van, giving Hill time to escape. Norwood says video also shows Hill not wearing the leg irons he was wearing when the van left the hospital.

Don William Davis and Bruce Earl Ward execution
Arkansas Department Of Correction

Two Arkansas inmates set for execution next month have until Sept. 21 to tell the state's Parole Board whether they want to be considered for clemency.

Bruce Earl Ward and Don William Davis are to die in a double-execution Oct. 21. Gov. Asa Hutchinson has set four double-executions in each of the next four months after Attorney General Leslie Rutledge certified that no court decisions currently stand in the way of their being put to death.

As Arkansas contends with overcrowded prisons, high rates of recidivism among parolees, and the potential resumption of executions, a conference this weekend at the UALR Bowen School of Law is focusing on findings of a report by the Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System Project.

The Arkansas Parole Board has adopted changes in which parole violators might not be automatically arrested for some violations.

The board announced Thursday that arrest warrants will be automatically issued for parole violators who are charged with a violent felony or sex-related crime or any crime involving use of a weapon. Arrest warrants will also be issued for parolees who evade supervision for 180 or more days.

Other requests for an arrest warrant will be reviewed by a parole board member as the board seeks to help reduce prison overcrowding.

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he wants the state to continue working with faith leaders about ways to address a shortage in foster homes and needs for re-entry programs for prisoners after a two-day summit focused on the topics.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (R)
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR News

Some 6,000 inmates are released every year from Arkansas prisons, reentering society to find few employment opportunities or support. Meanwhile thousands of foster children face a shortage of foster beds. That's why Governor Asa Hutchinson called for the "Restore Hope" Summit which takes place Tuesday, August 25 and Wednesday, August 26. 

State Prison Population Reaches Another Record High

Aug 20, 2015
Arkansas State Capitol
Chris Hickey / KUAR News

 

 Corrections officials are considering plans to send more state prisoners out-of-state as the Arkansas inmate population reaches an all-time high. Department of Correction Director Wendy Kelley told lawmakers at the Charitable, Penal and Correctional Institutions subcommittee of the Arkansas Legislative Council Thursday she's been visiting privately-operated prisons in neighboring states, and will likely recommend some Arkansas inmates to be housed in one of them.

Asa Hutchinson governor
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he's asking lawmakers to approve spending $7.4 million from Arkansas' discretionary funds to open 200 more prison beds in an effort to ease overcrowding of state inmates at county jails.

Arkansas prison officials are investigating an inmate who allegedly attacked a female correctional officer at the Varner Supermax prison.

Officials say the incident occurred shortly before 8:30 a.m. Monday when the inmate allegedly attacked the officer with a metal rod. Other officers heard her cry out for help and found her on the floor, suffering from what appeared to be two puncture wounds.

The officer was treated and released at a hospital. The officer was not identified but has worked for the Arkansas Department of Correction since April 2013.

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