The Pulaski County Regional Detention Facility, closed on account of crowding to minor offenders since April 29, reopened at 8 a.m. this morning to routine admissions. A sheriff's spokesman said the facility had 1,126 inmates, against a capacity of 1,210.
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/
In a case that has been winding through the legal system for at least four years, the Arkansas Court of Appeals today granted a new hearing to Jane Sexton in her claim that her late husband, Springdale firefighter Harold "Bud" Planchon, was entitled to duty related disability benefits for his colon cancer.
Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill of Little Rock seems likely to cruise to re-election against largely unfunded opponents, including Libertarian Chris Hayes and Democrat Dianne Curry, but an independent group has entered the fray against Hill with ads attacking the former banker's votes helpful to big banks.
The Arkansas Times has received more details on the circumstances surrounding the Harris rehoming case. Among them: A third sister was nearly adopted by Justin and Marsha Harris, but that adoption was disrupted before it was legally finalized. The girl left the home long before her younger sisters.
Craig and Cheryl Hart were the foster parents of the two sisters who were adopted by Rep. Justin Harris and his wife Marsha and later "rehomed." The Harts say that the adoption was allowed to proceed over the objections of the foster parents and local DHS staff due to pressure exerted by Cecile Blucker, head of the Division of Children and Family Services, on behalf of Justin Harris.
Little Rock police responding to a disturbance call near Eighth and Sherman Streets about 12:40 a.m. killed a man with a long gun, Police Chief Kenton Buckner said in an early morning meeting with reporters.
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is installing Sol Lewitt's 70-foot eye-crosser "Wall Drawing 880: Loopy Doopy," waves of complementary orange and green, on the outside of the Twentieth Century Gallery bridge. You can glimpse painters working on it from Eleven, the museum's restaurant, museum spokeswoman Beth Bobbitt said
Sen. Bart Hester, a Republican from Cave Springs who's been endeavoring lately to end state support for the state-owned War Memorial Stadium among other attacks on government spending, distributed a news release today saying he was working on a proposed $105 million income tax cut.
This is one to watch in Arkansas. The New York Times reports on incidents nationwide in which Republican-controlled states where voter ID laws have been invalidated in courts have found other ways to make it hard for new voters to get access to the polls.
U.S. Attorney Kenneth Elser announced today Clarence Garretson, 65, of Van Burean had pleaded guilty in federal court today to five counts of interstate transportation of a child with intention engage in criminal activity.
I wrote yesterday, but it bears repeating, that the Republican talking point about huge health insurance rate increases under Obamacare is, at best, wildly misleading. Dishonest is more accurate, I believe.