Arkansas Prisons

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. 

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.

McPherson Prison Unit in Newport.
Arkansas Department Of Correction

Investigators from U.S. Department of Justice are set to arrive at the McPherson Correctional facility in Newport later this month. The probe of the women's prison is looking into allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct.

Cathy Frye, spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Correction, says the state is doing what it can to assist with the investigation.

“We have absolutely zero tolerance for sexual abuse, assault, harassment or misconduct. We have asked the Justice Department to share the allegations so we can investigate and take immediate action,” Frye said.

The Arkansas Parole Board has approved shorter deadlines to hold revocation hearings for parole violators along with a stronger focus to place certain parole violators into alternative sentencing programs instead of prison beds.

The board approved the policy changes Monday, including the shorter deadlines passed by the Legislature this year.

The new deadlines will go into effect July 22 and require parole officers to submit reports within three days of a parole violation and require the board to issue any warrant within two days of reviewing the report.

Arkansas authorities are investigating a mix-up at a county jail after workers accidentally released an inmate.

The Pope County Sheriff's Office says 43-year-old Jeffrey Hale was set free on June 29 but taken back into custody the next day. Officials say Hale was in the booking area waiting for processing with another man who shared the same first name. They say Hale signed release documents indicating he was the man set for release.

prison jail department of correction
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

Arkansas Corrections officials say they are working to turn back rules that led to a steep increase in inmate numbers beginning in 2013. Projections indicate the state's inmate population will grow by almost 26,000 by the year 2025.

According to Department of Community Corrections spokeswoman, Dina Tyler, both the parole board and the correction board are preparing proposals for upcoming meetings to roll back stricter probation rules, with the goal of shortening the stay of low-risk re-offenders.

The Arkansas Department of Correction is asking the U.S. Department of Justice for details of its investigation into allegations of sexual abuse and harassment of prisoners at the McPherson Prison Unit in Newport, about 90 miles northeast of Little Rock.

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