It's important to appreciate the little things ... like the fact that, on this lovely April morning, you're not locked up for life inside the near-colorless concrete tomb that is the Arkansas Department of Correction's Varner Supermax Prison near Grady in Lincoln County. A rather haunting video posted to the ADC's Youtube page features a series of rarely-seen views inside Varner. /more/
Sentences doled out by state judges in criminal cases should be appealable, a legislative task force recommended today. Currently, those who are convicted of crimes have no judicial means for challenging the severity of their punishment. Also, debate about racial disparities in the criminal justice system. /more/
Paul Bookout, the former Senate president pro tem who pleaded guilty to felony mail fraud last year, was sentenced to 18 months of federal prison today. U.S. District Judge Brian Miller also ordered Bookout to pay $150,048 in restitution, according to court records. He's to report to prison May 2. /more/
Tom Cotton, never missing a chance to take a hard line policy stance, is leading the opposition to the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, a Senate bill that seeks to address mass incarceration at the federal level by reducing the length of mandatory minimum sentences. The bill has broad bipartisan support, including from the Koch brothers, the ACLU and the White House. Cotton's statements against the bill are highly misleading, the Washington Post finds. /more/
KARK's Shannon Miller reports that police are searching near the Fourche Creek area by University and Colonel Glenn for what could be human remains. Detectives indicated they may have found a human leg, according to Miller. /more/
A 25-year-old fatally shot at 14 Baltimore St. marks the third homicide Little Rock has seen in 24 hours, KARK reports. The first victim was Junius Pitts, Jr., 19 — shot in the 5400 block of Asher shortly after midnight. Eunice Lopez, 27, was shot in the 8400 block of Keats Dr. at around 10 a.m. Lopez was reportedly holding her child at the time of the shooting. /more/
Arkansas Business reports that H. Dennis Smiley Jr. was sentenced today to 97 months in federal prison. Smiley, the former president of Arvest Bank's Benton County market, pleaded guilty to bank fraud last August. Smiley was also ordered to pay restitution of $4.9 million and two years of supervised release will follow his prison sentence. /more/
Layoffs at the Welspun pipe plant in Little Rock are a reminder of the folly of corporate welfare and the inability of Arkansas to separate itself from global economic forces. See the Fayetteville shale. And keep a watchful eye on that Sun Paper pulp mill proposed near Arkadelphia.
Melinda Gwin, 49, of Hamburg has been sentenced to 21 months in federal prison and ordered to repay $210,875 stolen from the First National Bank of Crossett. She was sentenced in El Dorado federal court, according to a Justice Department news release.