Arkansas Prisons

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

Arkansas's attorney general is seeking to move lawsuits challenging a measure giving the prison director authority to determine an inmate's competency to be executed to federal court.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on Thursday filed notice to move the lawsuits by death row inmates Bruce Ward and Jack Greene from Jefferson County Circuit Court. The state Supreme Court in November struck down an earlier version of the mental competency law.

Legislators this year approved a reworked version of the law, and the inmates are seeking to have it overturned.

Arkansas state Sen. Joyce Elliot, Rep. Vivian Flowers and former inmate Kurt Muhammad
MaKayla Ealy / KUAR News

A bill is before the Arkansas legislature that would require inmates who have to work while serving prison sentences be paid for their labor.

Rep. Vivian Flowers, D-Pine Bluff, is the lead sponsor of the bill. She hopes instituting a pay scale for prison work programs will decrease extraordinarily high rates of recidivism. Money inmates earn would be available to them for supplies while in prison and after they are released to ease their transition back into society.

David Monteith / KUAR News

Reducing the number of people in Arkansas prisons is one of the goals of gubernatorial candidate Jared Henderson.

Monday Henderson released his plan for reforming Arkansas’s criminal justice system to address what he calls the "epidemic of mass incarceration" in the state.

John Brown
KARK-Channel 4

An Arkansas man who has been imprisoned since 1992 for robbery and murder convictions has been released after a judge overturned his conviction last month.

A judge ordered John Brown's release Wednesday after he served 26 years for the 1988 killing and robbery of an elderly woman in Fordyce. The Midwest Innocence Project, which appealed on Brown's behalf, says Brown's lawyer at the time was "ineffective and corrupt," and argued the state withheld potentially exculpatory evidence.

In 2015, Brown's co-defendant confessed to committing the crimes alone.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Two more inmates have died of possible drug overdoses at a maximum security prison in southeast Arkansas.

Arkansas Department of Correction attorney James DePriest say the inmates aged 26 and 55 were found unresponsive Wednesday in their cells at Varner Supermax Unit, about 50 miles southeast of Little Rock.

DePriest has said three other inmates were found unresponsive earlier this week and that they died within 24 hours of each other .

Varner Arkansas Department of Correction Cummins Prison
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A Department of Correction official says three inmates have died in less than 24 hours at a prison in southeast Arkansas, possibly from drug use.

Spokesman James DePriest said Monday that both state police and the department are investigating to determine the cause of the deaths at Varner and its supermax unit.

A convicted killer from Arkansas has died in suburban Detroit, 47 years after he visited Michigan on a brief furlough - and never returned to prison.

Lester Stiggers was 68 years old. His daughter, L'Donne Hampton, tells The Associated Press that he died Saturday at his apartment in Warren, probably from a heart attack.

Stiggers made headlines in 2013 when Arkansas asked Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to send him back. It was the first time in years that Arkansas had expressed interest in Stiggers, who entered Michigan in 1970 and worked as a plumber and auto worker.

Varner Arkansas Department of Correction Cummins Prison
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Five inmates have been charged in unrelated attacks the same afternoon that injured guards at two Arkansas prisons and number among a string of violent disturbances in the state's correctional facilities this year.

Four inmates have each been charged with two counts of battery in a Sept. 28 attack on two guards at the Varner Unit.

Another prisoner has been charged with one count of battery in another attack that occurred the same day at the Maximum Security Unit in Tucker.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas prison officials say the inmates who held two guards hostage for two and a half hours at a maximum security prison over the weekend have been returned to state custody after being treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

David Monteith / KUAR News

A turnip garden in Little Rock marked the site of a major milestone for reducing hunger in Arkansas Monday.

The Arkansas Gleaning Project celebrated its 10 millionth pound of gleaned produce by harvesting turnips from the Western Hills Park Garden. Michelle Shope, with the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, said The Arkansas Gleaning Project has fed hundreds of thousands of people since its inception in 2008.

Arkansas Death Chamber Lethal Injection
Department of Correction

The state of Arkansas has identified a New York pharmaceutical company – that doesn’t want its product used in executions – as the manufacturer of a recently acquired lethal injection drug. Arkansas was to carry out an execution Thursday night before the state Supreme Court granted an emergency stay based on questions about the mental health of death row inmate Jack Greene.

Image via Creative Commons

A criminal record can often prevent people from obtaining employment, secure housing, or qualifying for loans. But a clinic hosted by the Center for Arkansas Legal Services hopes to change that by helping low-income people seal criminal records for minor offenses. The clinic will take place Friday at Shorter College in North Little Rock.

A group of teens play volleyball during recess at a youth lockup facility in Harrisburg in Northeast Arkansas. They are in custody for doing things like breaking and entering, possessing a firearm, or stealing a car, and they will be there anywhere from a few months to a couple of years.

Governor Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas’ governor called for additional safeguards at the state’s prisons on Friday after a string of violence that included three guards being assaulted by inmates and hospitalized a day earlier in separate attacks at two facilities.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he was greatly concerned by the incidents Thursday afternoon in which two guards were assaulted by several inmates at the Varner Unit hours after a guard was assaulted by a prisoner in another incident at the Maximum Security Unit in Tucker.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

An Arkansas official says three inmates who were injured in a disturbance at a state prison have returned to the facility after being treated at area hospitals.

Arkansas Department of Correction spokesman Solomon Graves says the three inmates who were hospitalized after Thursday night's disturbance at the Cummins Unit in Grady had swelling to the face. The department said Friday that inmates in a single housing area within the prison broke windows and damaged surveillance equipment.

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