A CLOSER LOOK: COVID-19 continues to impact state prisons & staff

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ADC: 750 job openings

Tucker Unit

Guards walk in the maximum security unit at Tucker Prison near Tucker, Ark., Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2009. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — The Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC) is dealing with more than 500 infected inmates, 750 vacancies, and a training academy with nearly 50% who have tested positive for the virus.

May’s Division of Correction Personnel report shows ADC is authorized to employ 4,701 but only 3,950 positions are filled — 751 are vacant, that’s nearly 16%.

ADC Secretary Wendy Kelley announced her retirement at the State Board of Corrections meeting on Monday, June 29. She served as ADC’s director from January 2015 until July 2019 when Governor Asa Hutchinson named her secretary overseeing the department and the probation and parole system.

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“Wendy has been an incredibly valuable member of my team and I will miss her experience and leadership in one of the most challenging arenas of state government,” Hutchinson said in a statement. “She cares about this state and the inmates that are within her responsibility.”

PRISON JOB VACANCIES

The Cummins Unit, located in Lincoln County, has a 24% employee vacancy rate, it is the highest. ADC is authorized to employ 452, right now there are 107 open positions and no one was hired in May. The report shows 10 were “voluntary terminations,” 11 were “involuntary terminations,” and 1 person retired.

East Arkansas Regional Unit (EARU), located in Lee County, has 96 vacancies with only 270 positions filled — a 26% vacancy rate. Nine people were hired, eight involuntary terminations, and four were voluntary terminations.

In Jefferson County, the Tucker Unit has 53 vacancies, of 197 positions — nearly 27% vacancy. Eight people were terminated, three voluntarily quit and two people were hired.

The Ouachita River Unit can employ up to 466, but right now there are 94 vacancies — 20%. Six people were hired, 11 are listed as “voluntary termination,” four are “involuntary termination,” and one person retired.

Three of the four prisons listed above have inmates who are COVID-19 positive:

Additional prisons with COVID-19 positive inmates:

The Division of Correction Training Academy is a six week program for Basic Correctional Officer Training (BCOT). It’s located in England, Arkansas in southwestern Lonoke County.

At last check, 54 staff were tested and 24 were positive, according to ADC.

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