Arkansas Prisons

Frank WIlliams
Arkansas Department of Correction

Lawyers for a man who was sentenced to death for an Arkansas murder more than 20 years ago argue their client has a mental disability.

timothy buffington
Arkansas Dept. of Correction

Corrections officials say the search continues for a convicted killer who escaped an Arkansas prison more than three weeks ago.

Department of Correction spokeswoman Shea Wilson says the agency continues to follow up on tips and reported sightings of inmate Timothy Buffington, who escaped the Pine Bluff Unit on June 21.

But Wilson said Monday that there's been no confirmed sighting of Buffington apart from surveillance video taken the night of the escape. He escaped while doing janitorial work at a house on prison grounds, and officials say he stole a shotgun.

Gov. Mike Beebe's office says it has found $6.3 million in the budget to fund up to 600 additional prison beds.

Beebe's office said Thursday that the additional funding will relieve some backup of state prisoners in county jails, assuming it wins approval in a special session.

The governor says he'll add items to a call for a special session if passage in the House and Senate is assured. Already, legislators are working to win a consensus on public school employee health insurance. A bill that would block the lottery from adding monitor games is also under discussion.

A study out of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock says the financial literacy of prisoners exiting the Arkansas Department of Correction system is significantly lower than that of the state’s general public. The study also found the level of financial literacy was lower for non-white prisoners than for white prisoners.

You can read the full study here.

As Father’s Day nears, advocates for families of prisoners are bringing attention to the barriers that persist between incarcerated parents and their children.

Inmates from the North East Community Correction Center in Osceola made the long trip down to the State Capitol rotunda to deliver spiritual hymns as advocates detailed the ongoing struggles of children whose dads are imprisoned. Some from the choir of nonviolent offenders, like Christopher Brewer, were also moved to speak.

“I think all the time about what my kids think. Where is their father?” he said.

Officials say they now believe an inmate who escaped from the Southwest Arkansas Community Correction Center in Texarkana borrowed a bicycle and rode it to Interstate 30.

Twenty-year-old Derek Still was part of a group of inmates being escorted to a recreation area Saturday when he ran from the group and escaped.

KLRT reports that police now believe Still was able to borrow a phone and bike.

Still was convicted in Van Buren County of possession of drug paraphernalia.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR

The Arkansas Department of Corrections will soon decide on the future of inmate telephone services at its meeting on Tuesday. The Department’s current contract with Global Tel Link is expiring this year and advocates say the high rates charged for phone calls are unfair for inmates and their families.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR

A rally is set for Friday afternoon at the state capitol, with a range of speakers objecting to what’s being called the mass incarceration of citizens in the U.S. It comes as Arkansas is dealing with a record prison population and state lawmakers continue reevaluating how offenders are sentenced.

Lawmakers are trying to figure out how Arkansas' prison system can carry out death sentences.

The House and Senate Judiciary Committees took up the matter when they met Tuesday in Little Rock.

The state hasn't executed a death row inmate since 2005, and that isn't expected to change anytime soon.

Arkansas' prison system has said it plans to rewrite its lethal injection protocol to include a different drug or drugs and some of the state's more than 35 death row inmates are challenging Arkansas' new execution law in court.

Lawmakers are scheduled to discuss alternative methods of carrying out the death penalty in Arkansas.

The House and Senate Judiciary Committees are to take up the matter when they meet jointly in Little Rock on Tuesday. 

Arkansas hasn't executed a death row inmate since 2005, and that isn't expected to change anytime soon.

Some of the state's more than 35 death row inmates are challenging the state's new execution law in court. And the state prison system has said it plans to rewrite its lethal injection protocol to include a different drug or drugs.

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