As COVID-19 continues to spread in Arkansas's prison system, 300 inmates were released early on May 8 to help reduce this spread. Those released were imprisoned for nonviolent and nonsexual crimes.
"This is an example of the state doing the right thing by listening to health experts and the people of Arkansas. There's more work to do, but this is a meaningful step in the right direction," said State Representative Jamie Scott. "The state has a responsibility to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and safeguard the health of the people in its custody. Reviewing early release for certain inmates who have served most of their time and been on good behavior is a common sense, compassionate approach. It's important that the state also push forward with full testing in the state prison system, find solutions to sending COVID-positive guards into correctional facilities, and build greater support for inmate reentry and transition services to facilitate those who were already eligible for early release."
Over 900 inmates and 60 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 at Cummins Unit, and a total of 6 inmate deaths. Staff members who have tested positive for the virus are still working at the correctional facilities.
It was announced this week that the virus had spread to spread to second state prison. 48 inmates at the Randall L. Williams Unit in Pine Bluff have tested positive for COVID-19 and the Federal Correctional facility in Forrest City has more than 335 cases.