A CLOSER LOOK: 45 state prisoners; 2 employees have died from COVID-19

A Closer Look

ADC reports 2nd employee death; Donald "Donny" W. Rigney, Jr., 57

June 26, 2014 file photo, an inmate uses a phone at the Cook County Jail in Chicago. In July 2020, incarcerated people and their families said they are closely watching congressional debates about the next COVID-19 relief bill for proposed legislation that would drastically push down the cost of prison and jail phone calls. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) reports a cumulative total of 46 inmates deaths from COVID-19, or deaths from underlying conditions related to the virus, however, the ADH report lists 43 deaths (see below).

The Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC) reports 45 inmate deaths and another employee death for a total of two.

Overall, there have been 8,581 inmates test positive for the novel coronavirus, according to an ADH October 12th report.


  • Cummins Unit, Lincoln County: 11
  • East Ark Regional Unit, Lee County: 6
  • Max Security Unit, Jefferson County: 1
  • Ouachita River Correct. Unit, Hot Springs County: 19
  • Pine Bluff Unit Work Release, Jefferson County: 2
  • Varner Unit Super Max, Lincoln: 1
  • Wrightsville Male/Female, Pulaski: 3

On October 4, the ADC reported a COVID-19-related death of an inmate who was at the Varner Unit. The inmate was in his early 60s. He was pronounced dead at Baptist Health – North Little Rock. The ADC reports that this was the 45th inmate to die related to the pandemic.

On September 25, ADC employee Donald “Donny” W. Rigney, Jr., 57, died. He retired from the U.S. Navy. Rigney’s current position was Education and Technology Programs Manager at Riverside Vocational Technical School, Ouachita River Unit. He is survived by his wife and extended family.

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