LINCOLN COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Varner Unit inmate Skyland Harris took his life on Tuesday, December 29, according to the Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC), he is the sixth inmate to commit suicide this year.

Staff at the Varner Unit observed Harris (#139646) hanging in a locked single-man cell. Responding correctional officers and medical staff were unable to detect a pulse, said ADC Communications Director Cindy Murphy.

Harris was pronounced dead at 12:54 p.m.

The Arkansas State Police (ASP) was immediately notified, responded to the unit, and will be conducting an investigation into the death.

The ADC will be conducting an internal investigation into the death, according to a statement.


January 18: David Shabazz, 53, was found hanging in a locked single-man cell at the Randall Williams Unit at about 6:30 p.m. Saturday. A service was held at Brandon’s Mortuary, in Malvern, Arkansas.

February 8: Aaron Rodriguez, 29, was found hanging at East Arkansas Regional Unit of the Department of Corrections on Saturday afternoon. He was pronounced dead at the EARU infirmary.

March 14: Christopher Potts, 25, was found by corrections officers hanging from his cell at the  Maximum Security Unit at Tucker on Saturday afternoon. His funeral was at Regency Funeral Home in Malvern, Arkansas.

April 2: Calvin J. Hammock, 30, was found hanging in his single-man cell at the Pine Bluff Unit mid-day on Thursday.

November 28: Demeckus Singleton, 28, was found hanging in a locked single-man cell at the Ouachita River Correctional Unit. His funeral was held at R.L. Reed in Magnolia, Arkansas.

There are 19 state prisons in Arkansas. As of September 2020, the total inmate population was 16,215, a decrease of 1,544 since January 1, 2020, according to ADC Director Dexter Payne’s report.

At the national level, the number of inmate deaths between 2006 to 2016 increased by 15%, even though the total number of prisoners decreased by 5%, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

  • 88% of the deaths were natural causes.
  • 11% of deaths were suicide, drug or alcohol intoxication, accidental causes of homicide.