Prison History and Events
Think Legacy, a department-wide re-entry program, was formally launched at the beginning of the year. Inmates who are within 12 to 18 months of their projected release may be housed in a Think Legacy barracks. They are required to take 20 or more hours per week of instruction tailored to aid them in successfully transitioning back into free society. The program utilizes a combination of ADC staff and volunteers to provide instruction and make resources available to inmate participants.
The Agriculture Division hosted its annual Horse Auction on March 11. Thirty horses, retired from the ADC’s working herd, were offered for sale to the public.
Mark Cashion became the Assistant Director over Administrative Services in May.
Several staff members were honored for their outstanding work in the operation of the agency by receiving 2017 Pinnacle Awards: Employee of the Year - James Wilson-Cummins Unit; Supervisor of the Year - Lamont Wimbley-Administration Annex East; Correctional Supervisor of the Year - Ronald Gillihan-North Central Unit and Laura Cook-Cummins Unit; Correctional Officer of the Year - Tiantha Westbrook-East Arkansas Unit and Malcomb Crompton- Varner Unit; Deputy Warden of the Year - Anthony Jackson-Ouachita River Correctional Unit; Superintendent of the Year - William Straughn-Cummins Unit; Director’s Outstanding Service Award - K-9 Division: John Maples, Eddie Powell, Tony Baugh, Chris Brown, Jeremy Campbell, Christopher Griffith, Billy Hayes, Jonathan Lawrence, Corey Lowery, Dennis Reap, and Ronald Watson; Director’s Citation of Excellence Award in Programming - Nicole Smart-Central Office; Director’s Citation of Excellence Award in Security - Jacqueline Owens-Varner Unit; and Hero Award - Randy Straughn-Varner Unit.
On March 12, 38 horses, colts and mules were sold at the annual ADC Horse Auction held in Benton at the Saline County Fairgrounds. Total revenue from the sale was $29,015.
The following received reaccreditation by the American Correctional Association (ACA) through perfect audit scores of 100% on both mandatory and non-mandatory standards:
• Industry Division
• Northwest Arkansas Work Release Center (Springdale)
• Pine Bluff Complex
• Texarkana Regional Correctional Center (TRCC)
The Arkansas Department of Correction dedicated its first reentry facility, the Barbara Ester Unit, in August. The goal of the facility focuses on training and resources for prisoners before they are released back into the community. The unit is named after Corporal Barbara Ester, who was killed in the line of duty in 2012 at the East Arkansas Regional Unit.
The ADC Agricultural Division provided more than $1.9 million in savings to the taxpayer through inmate consumption of farm-produced goods during the fiscal year.
On February 16, 1916, the state purchased 1,384.64 acres of land that would become what is known today as the Tucker Unit. A commemoration event, held on Friday, Dec. 16 at the unit’s Island of Hope Chapel, marked the 100th anniversary since the facility opened its doors to inmates.
Agency Assistant Director, Mike Carraway, died on Dec. 17 at the age of 55. Director Wendy Kelley stated, "He was a mentor, co-worker and member of the department; he had a wealth of knowledge, which he would happily share with others. He was a friend who provided an encouraging word."
Winners of the ADC’s 2016 Pinnacle Awards – the highest recognition of achievement within the agency – included: Employee of the Year - Abby Rizor-Grimes Correctional Facility and Jeremy Cottrell, North Central Unit; Supervisor of the Year - Connie Dean-Pine Bluff Unit; Correctional Supervisor of the Year - Kenyon Randle, East Arkansas Regional Unit; Correctional Officer of the Year - Latoya Eason, Construction Division; Deputy Warden of the Year - DeAngelo Earl-Grimes Correctional Facility; Warden of the Year - Joe Page-Delta Regional Unit; Director’s Outstanding Service Award - Richard Meeks-Construction and Mike Carraway-Administrative Annex East; Director’s Citation of Excellence Award - Ozell Pace-Varner Unit and Judy Taylor-Central Office; and Hero Award - Lance Hall-Training Academy and Joel Crook-Ouachita River Unit.
Effective January 13, Wendy Kelley assumed the role of ADC Director. Kelley had served as Chief Deputy Director since Jan. 2014. The first female in the role of Chief Deputy Director, Kelley became the first female Director.
Dale Reed became the Chief Deputy Director. Reed is responsible for Emergency Preparedness and the Cummins, Varner, VSM, Ouachita River, Wrightsville, Pine Bluff, RLW, and Ester Units.
ADC gathered at the Pine Bluff Country Club for the presentation of the 2014 Pinnacle Awards. Winners are: Employee of the Year Patty Green-Wrightsville Unit and Ayn Freygang-Central Office; Supervisor of the Year Jason Martin-Farm Division and Debra Scott-Delta Regional Unit; Correctional Supervisor of the Year Rodney King-Pine Bluff Unit and Terry Doyle-East Arkansas Regional Unit; Correctional Officer of the Year Johnnie Harris-Delta Regional Unit and Adam Helm-Ouachita River Correctional Unit; Deputy Warden of the Year Toni Bradley-Wrightsville Unit and Jared Byers-Cummins Unit; Superintendent of the Year Dexter Payne-Wrightsville Unit and Randy Watson-Varner Unit; Director’s Outstanding Service Award Brandon Carroll-Randall L. Williams Unit, Steven Ricketts-Randall L. Williams Unit, Randy Shores-Central Office, Raymond Naylor-Central Office; Director’s Citation of Excellence Award Garrett Scifres-IT, Robert Carter-ACI, Shurrel Freeman-Randall L. Williams Unit and Darren Dill-Cummins Unit. The following individuals were recognized for their military service: Daniel Mitchell-Benton, Philip Esaw-Cummins, Mark Herndon-Cummins, Connie Heard-Max, Juan Morgan-McPherson, Gunner Pritchard-Ouachita, Rodney Gaynor-RLW, Joseph Walker-RLW, Donald Austin-TRWRC, Marquis Creggett-Tucker, Jeremy Crosby-Tucker, Marcus Watkins-Varner, Austin Ezell-Wrightsville/Hawkins, and Courtney L. McClina-Wrightsville/Hawkins. These individuals were recognized for their educational achievements: Rory Griffin-Central Office, Cyndi Vent-Central Office, James Mize-EARU, Andrew Ruh-Max, Chase Lettenmaier-McPherson, Karen Payne-NCU, Gary Musselwhite-ORCU, Byrone Miller-PBU, Gloria Traylor-Transportation, Sheila Lowden-Smith-Tucker, Jeremy Andrews-Varner, Jerry Gray-Wrightsville, and Jeannie Lucas-Wrightsville/Hawkins,
Effective Jan. 1, 2014, Wendy Kelley became the Chief Deputy Director. The first female in the role of Deputy Director, Kelley was responsible for Information Systems, Research/Planning/Policy, Classification/Records, Drug Testing Coordinator, PREA/STTG Coordinator, Inmate Grievance Division, Sex Offender Assessment, the Training Academy, Emergency Preparedness, Paws in Prison, and the Pine Bluff, Randall L. Williams, and Ouachita River Correctional Units.
Rory Griffin became Deputy Director—Health Programs, and George Wilson assumed the role of Administrator of Medical and Dental Services.
While on vacation, K9 Sgt. Kevin Glover was traveling through Pine Bluff when he noticed a person walking and carrying two long guns. Thinking this was suspicious, Glover notified a Pine Bluff Police Officer-friend. The guns had been stolen, and this call led to the arrest of the person in suspicion.
Arkansas Department of Correction employees gathered for a festive evening in January at the Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock for the presentation of the 2013 Pinnacle Awards. Winners were:
Ardella Bearden of the Director’s Staff, Employee of the Year; Teresa Funderburg, Administrative Services, Supervisor of the Year; Stanley Ray Hendon, Northwest Arkansas Work Release Center, Correctional Officer of the Year; Cordall Akins of Randall Williams Unit, Correctional Supervisor of the Year; James ‘Hoot’ Gibson of the Delta Unit, Deputy/Assistant Warden of the Year; Dexter Payne of the Wrightsville Unit, Warden of the Year; Kim Lum of the Delta Unit, Hero Award; Cpl. Heath Branscum, Sgt. Kyle Moody, and Lt. Steven Lively of the North Central Unit, Director’s Citation of Excellence; and the Director’s Outstanding Service Awards were presented to Marvin Evans, Essie Clay, Sandra Kennedy, Lover Polk, Jeremy Andrews, and Jada Lawrence.
Jason Pilkington, a Program Specialist at the Benton Unit, was honored recently by Sonic of East End with their “Thumbs Up of the Month” award.
Legal resources and research was the topic of a new class offered to ADC staff. Lisa Wilkins, Attorney Supervisor, along with special guest speakers: Communications Counsel Stephanie Harris and Librarian Rod Miller, both from the Arkansas Supreme Court, and Professor of Librarianship Jessie Burchfield from the UALR Bowen School of Law, taught an informational class at Central Office.
ADC employees showed up for the annual Polar Bear Plunge, tug-o-war, and walk/run, a fundraiser benefitting Special Olympics. Held at Pine Bluff Regional Park, ADC’s ERT, K9 and other employees participated in the day’s events, and our donation to the event was $1,050.
An armory built in Springdale in 1947 became the new home for the Northwest Arkansas Work Release Center (NWAWRC).
ADC teams won top honors. The 15th annual Southern States Manhunt Field Trials was held in March at Camp Joseph T. Robinson in North Little Rock.
The North Central Unit in Calico Rock completed their American Correctional Association audit with 100% scores on mandatory and non-mandatory standards.
The recommendation of the renaming of the old Diagnostic Unit in Pine Bluff was approved by the Board of Corrections - in honor of Cpl. Barbara Ester, who was killed by an inmate at the East Arkansas Regional Unit in Brickeys in 2012.
Three ADC employees, Mary Prewitt, Gary Hill, and Sgt. Ray Weatherford, were commended recently by Joe J. Volpe, United States Magistrate Judge.
After the England Middle School was deeded to the ADC, the property was converted into a new training academy – the Willis H. Sargent Training Academy that includes administration space, plenty of classroom space, a living quarter, a conference room, and a gymnasium.
The Delta Regional Unit in Dermott completed their American Correctional Association audit with 100% on mandatory and 99.76% on non-mandatory standards.
The East Arkansas Regional Unit in Brickeys completed their American Correctional Association audit with 100% on both mandatory and non-mandatory standards.
The Mississippi County Work Release Center completed their American Correctional Association audit with 100% mandatory standards and 100% non-mandatory standards.
ADC Central Office K-9 Unit members provided assistance to the Area IX Special Olympics Field and Track Day at the White Hall High School Football Field.
Training to become a member of the elite Emergency Response Team, 30 employees endured 40 hours of harsh physical demands to obtain their ERT pin.
ADC Units celebrated National Correctional Officers, Nurses, and Teacher’s Week by honoring employees across the state for their service.
The 2014 (10th annual) ADC Ball and Chain Challenge golf tournament, sponsored by the employee Associations of the Arkansas Department of Correction and Arkansas Association of Correctional Employees Trust, was held at the Harbor Oaks Golf Course in Pine Bluff. Proceeds from the event help to support scholarship programs, special events for AACET members and disaster relief services.
Dr. Bill Glover became the new Superintendent of the Arkansas Correctional School, replacing Dr. Dubs Byers, who is retired after 39 years of service.
Runners from the Pine Bluff, Wrightsville and Max Units gathered at Saracen Landing in Pine Bluff to carry the torch in the Jefferson County leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Arkansas.
The ADC responded with help when the state suffered some of the heaviest damage and the largest number of deaths from a storm that swept across a large swath of the Plains and Midwest in late April.
ADC received ‘checks’ symbolic of energy savings and incentives from CenterPoint Energy and Entergy. The checks for energy efficiency incentives total close to $400,000 from all efforts combined and amount to savings of about $ 2.8 million.
ADC staff stayed busy searching for inmate Timothy Buffington, a trusty inmate assigned to the Pine Bluff Unit who left his work assignment on June 21. He was taken into custody September 18.
ADC Director Ray Hobbs was sworn in as president of the Southern States Correctional Association at the 45th annual conference held in Savannah, Ga.
John “Mark” Wheeler was named the new Assistant Director - Re-entry.
Sgt. Darren Dill of the Cummins Unit was one of the recipients of the North American Association of Wardens and Superintendents (NAAWS) Medal of Valor. Dill displayed the true meaning of valor through his actions September 5, 2913 when he entered into an existing fight between inmates and officers and took control of an inmate wielding a knife.
The fourth annual ADC horse auction was held at the Saline County Fairgrounds in Benton, bringing in $21,095.
ADC Central Office and Administration Annex East completed ACA audits with 100% in mandatory standards and 100% in non-mandatory standards.
The Board of Corrections selected former ADC Director Larry Norris to serve as interim director when Director Ray Hobbs retired in November.
The 25th Annual Red Ribbon Walk/Run, sponsored by the ADC, was held at Jefferson Wellness Center at Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Pine Bluff. Proceeds from the 5K run will allow for scholarships to be awarded to graduating high school seniors, either from the county or the child of an ADC employee.
It’s been one hundred years since our first execution.
A familiarization class began at the Training Academy for families of BCOT students.
Entergy Arkansas presented the Arkansas Board of Corrections with a rebate check for $27,910 in January for the Department of Correction’s conservation efforts.
The 2012 Pinnacle Award winners are: Kenneth DeWitt, McPherson Unit, Employee of the Year; John Maples, Tucker Unit, Correctional Officer of the Year; Dream Redic-Young, Ouachita River Unit, Supervisor/Administrator of the Year; Merlin Fitzpatrick, Cummins Unit, Correctional Supervisor of the Year; Nurzuhal Faust, McPherson, Deputy/Assistant Warden of the Year; Danny Burl, East Arkansas Unit, Warden of the Year; Norma Gillom, Ouachita River Unit, Director’s Citation of Excellence; Gaylon Lay, Cummins Unit, Director’s Citation of Excellence; Serena McCoy, Delta Regional Unit, Director’s Citation of Excellence; and the Director’s Outstanding Service Awards were presented to Sheila Sharp, Wendy Kelley, Leon Starks, and Larry May.
The Bureau of Prisons in Forrest City requested assistance Jan. 31 from the Arkansas Department of Correction K9 Narcotic Interdiction Unit to search for narcotics/tobacco utilizing canines in its Low Security and the Camp Facilities. K9 teams consisted of Sgt. James Mize and K9 Jack, Sgt. Brian Cockrell and K9 Missi, and Sgt. Michael Richardson and K9 Dexter, along with FCC-Forrest City prison staff.
Construction continued at the North Central Unit in Calico Rock. The project consists of a 100-bed barracks and an area for four additional classrooms, non-contact visitation and waste water treatment plant improvements.
Assistant Director Grant Harris, state representative to the Southern States Correctional Association, told SSCA’s Membership Committee that Arkansas currently has 490 members, making it the largest state representation of the 14-state organization.
ADC teams won top honors at the 14th annual Southern States Manhunt Field Trials March 4-8 at Camp Joseph T. Robinson in North Little Rock. ADC teams took all four places in the pack division (first through fourth—ORCU, Tucker, EARU, Cummins), all four places in the multi-leash division (first through fourth—ORCU, Tucker, Central Office, EARU), three of the four places in the single division (Tucker first, Newport third, Cummins fourth) and all four places in the narcotics division (first through fourth—Sgt. J. Mize, Sgt. D. Reap, Sgt. M. Richardson, Lt. T.A. Moore).
Norway’s Correction System officials toured Arkansas facilities in March to gain insight into eOMIS functions. Norway Corrections is considering the purchase of the electronic Offender Management Information System for use in their country and had requested to observe how different areas utilize the offender tracking system in daily operations.
The Paws in Prison program broke new ground with a 1-year-old flat-coated retriever named Korie, trained at the Ouachita River Correctional Unit to be a “reading dog.” A reading dog promotes reading by sitting with a child while he or she is learning to read.
Across the State the ADC honored its employees for their service as correctional officers, nurses and teachers in conjunction with the National Correctional Officers and Employees Week and Nurses and Teacher’s Appreciation Week May 6-10. Units celebrated with breakfasts, luncheons, cookouts, pizzas, barbecues, cakes and awards.
Assistant Director Dina Tyler was recognized with a Capitol Citation for her contributions to Arkansas. The request for the citation was made by former state Sen. Bobby Glover, who serves on the Board of Corrections.
ADC officers participated in the filming of a training video to be produced by Savant Learning Systems of Martin, Tenn. The filming took place in the old Diagnostic Unit in Pine Bluff.
The 2013 ADC Ball and Chain Challenge golf tournament swung into action in May. The ninth annual event, sponsored by the employee Associations of ADC and Arkansas Association of Correctional Employees Trust, was held at the Harbor Oaks Golf Course in Pine Bluff. Kevin Murphy, executive director of AACET, said the event raised more than $50,000 net.
ADC employees and Arkansas State Troopers successfully carried the torch on May 23, 2013, from Saracen Landing in Pine Bluff to the Pulaski County line in the 2013 Jefferson County Law Enforcement Torch Run for Arkansas Special Olympics.
Farm Administrator Mark McCown said the Agriculture Division spans the Cummins Unit, Tucker Unit, Wrightsville Unit, East Arkansas Regional Unit, Varner Unit, Maximum Security Unit, North Central Unit, Pine Bluff Unit, Ouachita River Unit, Grimes Unit and Delta Unit. Each year there are approximately 21,500 acres in farming production.
The first APAL (Advanced Principles & Application for Life, a re-entry program) graduation was held at the Hawkins Unit.
Rebate checks were presented during the June Board of Corrections meeting at the Hawkins Center for Women. Assistant Director Leon Starks of the Construction and Maintenance Division said conservation efforts mean a three-quarter million dollar annual savings to ADC.
The ADC made a commitment to utilize inmate work crews when possible to glean donated fruits and vegetables and partnered efforts with the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance. ADC typically stays busy from June through October helping with gleaning projects. Prisons geographically close to the farms with donated crops respond to assistance requests.
The North Central Unit in Calico Rock became the exclusive location for ADC’s horse program — the breeding and training ground which will supply the other units with work horses.
The ADC moved up to the top notch - blue (all characteristics and all key indicators) on the PBMS (Performance Based Measure System) map. PBMS is a hierarchical typology of performance standards, measures and key indicators of critical practices that was designed to translate the missions and goals of correctional agencies into a set of measurable outcomes.
England Middle School was deeded to the ADC, and plans began to turn the former school into a new training academy.
ADC Assistant Director Dina Tyler transferred on Aug. 26 to the Arkansas Department of Community Correction. She is now deputy director of public services with that agency.
Bark at Dark, a benefit auction for Paws in Prison, brought in $25,000 on September 10.
The production of a new chicken layer facility began at the Cummins Unit. The facility was designed to meet ADC’s current egg requirements and at the same time produce a surplus that could be sold to generate income for the Agriculture Division.
Director Ray Hobbs received the Legacy Award from the Association of Women Executives in Corrections at the 17th annual Membership Training Institute in Phoenix, Arizona.
Northwest Arkansas Work Release Center began renovations to old Springdale National Guard Armory in order to house 100 work release inmates at the facility.
Sgt. Tashayla Jackson was ‘pinned’ as ADC’s first female K9 handler.
The third annual ADC horse auction, held at the Saline County Fairgrounds in Benton, was a success bringing in $28,662. Thirty-three horses, colts and mules sold.
The 24th Annual Red Ribbon Walk/Run, sponsored by the ADC, was held Oct. 12 at Jefferson Wellness Center at Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Pine Bluff. Proceeds from the 5K run allow for scholarships to be awarded to graduating high school seniors, either from Jefferson County or the child of an ADC employee.
The Pine Bluff Unit and Randall L. Williams Correctional Facility completed their audit with 100% mandatory standards and 99.3% non-mandatory standards met.
The Northwest Arkansas Work Release Center completed their ACA audit with 100% on the mandatory standards and 99.5% on non-mandatory standards.
The Texarkana Regional Correction Center completed its re-accreditation audit and received 100% in both mandatory and non-mandatory standards.
Arkansas Correctional Industries completed their ACA audit with 100% scores on mandatory and non-mandatory standards.
The Wrightsville/Hawkins Complex completed their ACA audit with 100% mandatory standards and 100% non-mandatory standards.
The Tucker Unit for completed their ACA audit with 100% mandatory standards and 100% non-mandatory standards.
Public scrutiny of the state’s probation and parole agency had a major impact on ADC’s prison population. The more parolees who return to prison, the more bed space ADC needs. ADC has topped its historic population high.
Mike Carraway returned to the Arkansas Department of Correction as Assistant Director over Administrative Services on Oct. 27, 2013.
Through the years, ADC agriculture has harvested pecans - completely by hand. While we will continue harvesting some areas by hand, we are now using mechanical harvesters.
Chief Deputy Director Larry May retired in December.
The Arkansas prison farms at Cummins and Varner were the feature story in the July-August 2011 issue of the Arkansas Farm Bureau’s Front Porch magazine.
FEMA provided funds to the ADC to help offset the costs of repairs to the Tucker, Grimes and McPherson Units in addition to monies received to repair roads and structural damages to the East Arkansas Regional Unit from storm damages.
The Arkansas’ Old State House Museum received the Award of Merit (the highest form of recognition presented to any institution for an exhibit, program or publication by the American Association for State and Local History) for its exhibit: Badges, Bandits and Bars: Arkansas Law and Justice. The exhibit, offered a compelling look into the police and prison systems through over 900 artifacts and photos including the state’s two electric chairs, seized gaming equipment and inmate weapons, to the original gavel used by the now-famous “Hanging” Judge Isaac Parker.
The Maximum Security Unit held a grand opening for its new chapel November 2011.
The first ADC Horse Auction was held November 19th at the Saline County Fairgrounds in Benton. The event raised about $35,000.
On Roosevelt Road in Little Rock a new barracks was opened for the housing of inmates assigned to daily supervision by the Arkansas State Police with work assignments in the Little Rock area.
The Pine Bluff Unit School was the fifth Correctional Unit in the United States to successfully deliver a GED test via the computer. The inmate who took the test via the computer was Travis Warren. He scored 660 on the social studies test, which was in the 95th percentile. With this milestone, the correctional school system began the process of transitioning from paper and pencil tests to computer-based testing.
PAWS in Prison started on December 8, 2011, at the Maximum Security Unit, Ouachita River Correctional Facility and the Randall L. Williams Correction Facility. On December 13th, PAWS in Prison was added at the Hawkins Center for Women.
The Diagnostic Unit was closed in January 2012. The Board of Corrections made the decision to open the SNU (Special Needs Unit) at the Ouachita River Correctional Unit, which is the first of its kind in the country. Corporal Barbara Ester was fatally stabbed January 20, 2012, by Inmate Latavious Johnson at East Arkansas Regional Unit.