Entries - Entry Category: Law - Starting with C

Caldwell, Will, and John Thomas (Lynching of)

aka: John Thomas and Will Caldwell (Lynching of)
On September 10, 1895, an African-American man named Will Caldwell and an “old negro man” identified by some newspapers as John Thomas were lynched near Blytheville (Mississippi County) for allegedly murdering and robbing a woman named Mattie Rhea. An extensive search of records for Arkansas and neighboring states revealed no information about either Mattie Rhea or Will Caldwell. There was, however, a John Thomas living in Mississippi County in 1880. He was twenty-six years old and living in Pecan Point Township, in the very southeastern part of the county. He would have been forty-one at the time of the lynching, which may not qualify him for the sobriquet “old negro.” Living in the same township and working on a farm …

Campaign Finance Laws

In the modern era, through a combination of legislation and initiated acts, the state of Arkansas has developed a system of campaign finance laws for state elections. While critics charge that the system has problematic holes within it that allow money to unduly influence policymakers’ decisions, it is a system that is now in the mainstream of American states and is generally strong in terms of the disclosure of campaign contributions and expenditures. Such contributions and expenditures were completely unregulated in Arkansas until the mid-1970s, when an initial campaign finance law was passed (Act 788 of 1975). This came a year after the first major federal campaign finance legislation was passed following the Watergate scandal in which quid pro quo …

Cane Hill Murders of 1839

On June 15, 1839, William Carter Wright of Cane Hill (Washington County) and four of his children were murdered in their home. Their slaying led to the impromptu trial and lynching of four men, conducted by the Cane Hill Independent Regulating Company, a “citizens’ vigilante group.” The brutality of the Cane Hill Murders and the nature of the hearings reflect the potential for lawlessness in the border region in the early history of the state. On the night of June 15, 1839, Nancy Wright (referred to as Frances in some sources) awoke when she heard horses and men outside the Wrights’ cabin. The sounds alarmed her, and she woke her husband, telling him that she thought Indians were approaching. Three …

Canfield Race War of 1896

On Saturday, December 12, 1896, African-American workers at the Canfield Lumber Company in the small lumber town of Canfield (Lafayette County) were fired on by a mob of whites and forced to leave the area. This was part of a widespread pattern of intimidation of black laborers in southern Arkansas in the 1890s, a practice that seems to have reached a peak in 1896. There were incidents involving railroad workers in Polk County in August and on the Cotton Belt Railway line in Ouachita County in early December. Later in December, there was a similar incident at a sawmill in McNeil (Columbia County). These incidents were part of a larger pattern evident in southern Arkansas throughout the 1890s in which …

Capital Punishment

aka: Death Penalty
The death penalty was practiced in Arkansas even before the state was admitted to the Union in 1836. According to the Arkansas News, “during the American Revolution several members of the garrison at Arkansas Post were convicted of having plotted on behalf of the English to massacre all the soldiers at the Post. They were executed by a firing squad in New Orleans.” These executions mark the first recorded death sentences for crimes committed in Arkansas. The Arkansas criminal code provides for the death penalty or life without parole upon conviction of capital murder or treason. Those convicted of rape were also subject to the death penalty until January 1, 1976, prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Coker …

Capus, Henry (Lynching of)

Henry Capus, an African-American man, was lynched in late June 1894 in Columbia County. The reports regarding his killing are brief and lacking details, but his murder follows the pattern of many other lynchings of the era. The exact identity of Henry Capus is unknown, as there are no exact census matches for that name (especially given that the enumeration sheets for the 1890 census were lost to fire), and national reports offered variations on his last name, rendering it Cabus or Cahns. There is a Henry Cabos or Cabus listed on the 1880 census residing in Shreveport, Louisiana, but he would have been sixty-four at the time of the lynching. That same census finds a Henry Capus in Alabama; …

Carpenter, Cornelius Tyree

Cornelius Tyree (C. T.) Carpenter was an educator, minister, and attorney in northeastern Arkansas. In addition to serving as president of Woodland Baptist College in Jonesboro (Craighead County) and being minister of the First Baptist Church of Marked Tree (Poinsett County), he gained national attention as the attorney for the Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union (STFU) from 1935 to 1936. C. T. Carpenter was born on September 5, 1874, in Rockbridge County, Virginia, to John T. Carpenter and Sarah Carpenter. He had three brothers and one sister. His father was a Baptist minister who studied under General Robert E. Lee at Washington College after the Civil War. The family was well established in Virginia and, according to Oren Stephens of Harper’s …

Carroll County Lynching of 1878

In October 1878, a posse pursued a pair of southwestern Missouri horse thieves into western Carroll County and hanged them. Franzisca Haneke Massman, the thrice-widowed owner of a major sawmill operation in western Carroll County, observed two horsemen riding through her property on October 26, 1878. They were soon followed by six other riders who appeared to be pursuing them. Massman, incorrectly identified as “Mrs. Masmer” in newspaper accounts, left on horseback about half an hour later to check on some of her lumbermen on the far side of a mountain near her mills. As she topped the mountain, she “espied in the shadow of a giant pine eight men whom she recognized as the two former and the six …

Carter, Allen (Lynching of)

Sometime during the first week of August 1892, an African-American man named Allen Carter was lynched at Wynne (Cross County) for allegedly assaulting his fourteen-year-old daughter. While the method of the murder is not specified, brief reports from across the United States indicate that the mob that lynched him was composed entirely of African Americans. There exists insufficient documentary evidence to determine the identity of Carter, and reports differ as to when exactly Carter was lynched. According to the August 6 issue of the Daily Public Ledger, Carter was arrested on Tuesday, August 2. The mob later removed him from jail and lynched him. Other similar published accounts vary on the date of the lynching, placing it anywhere from August …

Carter, John (Lynching of)

In early May 1927, Little Rock (Pulaski County) experienced a wave of mob violence surrounding the lynching of an African American named John Carter. This lynching and the rioting that followed is one of the most notorious incidents of racial violence in the state’s history. This event reveals much about the history of race relations in Little Rock, as well as the state’s struggle with its national image. The episode began on April 30, 1927, when the dead body of a twelve-year-old white girl named Floella McDonald was discovered by a janitor in the belfry of the First Presbyterian Church in Little Rock. The next afternoon, police arrested the janitor and his seventeen-year-old mulatto son, Lonnie Dixon, for the murder. …

Carter, William Neal (Bill)

Bill Carter is a lawyer, former Secret Service agent, music manager and promoter, and author. He is best known for being the Rolling Stones’ lawyer who facilitated the release of two band members from custody when they were arrested in 1975 while traveling through Fordyce (Dallas County). Carter has also managed country singers Tanya Tucker and Reba McEntire. In 2013, Carter was added to the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame. William Neal (Bill) Carter was born on January 19, 1936, in Rector (Clay County) to Henry Gaston Carter and Essie Faye Richardson Carter. Carter’s father was a farmer, and the family had little money when he was growing up. Carter spent time in the cotton fields as a youth and …

Catcher Race Riot of 1923

The December 28, 1923, assault and murder of a white woman in the Catcher community in Crawford County quickly ignited a firestorm of racial hatred that, within the span of a few days, exploded into the murder of an innocent black man, charges of night riding being leveled against eleven African Americans, and the exodus of all black families from Catcher, numbering at least forty. Two African-American men were sentenced to death and executed in relation to the murder, while a third was given life in prison, following trials that included dubious evidence offered by the prosecution. From the days of slavery, the township in which Catcher is situated, four miles southeast of Van Buren (Crawford County) in cotton-producing river …

Cates, Sam (Lynching of)

On September 12, 1917, a twenty-five-year-old African-American man named Sam Cates was lynched near England (Lonoke County) for allegedly harassing white girls and young women, including allegedly sending an improper note to the sister of Claude Clay. The exact identity of Sam Cates remains uncertain. According to marriage records, there were two men by the same or similar names living in Lonoke County around this time, although neither have ages exactly matching twenty-five in 1917. On July 3, 1910, twenty-one-year-old Sammie Kates married Mary Mathews (born around 1891) in England (which lies in the center of Lonoke County’s Gum Woods Township). According to 1910 census records, there was an African-American woman named Mary Matthews (born around 1893) living with her …

Chicot County Lynching of 1836

aka: Bunch (Lynching of)
According to the Arkansas Gazette, an African American identified only as Bunch was hanged in Chicot County in August 1836. The incident was also reported in a number of newspapers across the United States. According to the Gazette, Bunch, perhaps a member of the free black population in Chicot County, attempted to vote, but the judges turned him back because he was black. Bunch “took umbrage” at this and “resorted to violent measures.” In the midst of the fracas that followed, one Dr. Webb, “a highly respectable citizen,” was stabbed multiple times and was expected to die. Local citizens were so incensed that they promptly hanged Bunch. The Indiana American, quoting the Louisville Journal, reported that Bunch had a copy …

Chowning, Frank Edwin

Frank Chowning was a longtime Little Rock (Pulaski County) attorney. He was also a plant enthusiast whose work with irises, especially his hybridization efforts, earned him an international reputation. Francis Edwin Chowning was born on May 26, 1894, in Rison (Cleveland County) to Nathaniel Barnett Chowning and Deborah Curtis Marks Chowning. Chowning grew up and received his early education in Rison before attending Henderson-Brown College (now Henderson State University) in Arkadelphia (Clark County). His time at Henderson-Brown was interrupted by World War I, during which Chowning served in the U.S. Army, earning the rank of lieutenant while stationed in France. Following the war, he earned his law degree from Vanderbilt University in 1922. He married Martha Speakes Bradford in 1928, …

City of Hot Springs v. Creviston

The Arkansas Supreme Court upended fifty-two years of financial practice by Arkansas cities and counties and numerous decisions of the Supreme Court when it ruled on March 3, 1986, that the Arkansas Constitution required the state and local governments to get voters’ approval before issuing bonds for capital improvements or any other purpose. The decision, in a case styled City of Hot Springs v. Tom Creviston, stunned local governments and financial institutions and briefly halted the issuance of financial instruments called revenue bonds, which were debts that were to be repaid from revenues generated by the project rather than from taxes. But a constitutional amendment to lift the election requirement was hastily drafted, petitions placed it on the ballot, and …

Claiborne, Harry Eugene

Harry Eugene Claiborne, a native of McRae (White County), was a lawyer, politician, and later a federal judge in Las Vegas, Nevada. Claiborne became known nationwide in 1986 as the first sitting federal judge to be sent to prison and the fifth person in American history to be removed from his or her position through impeachment by the U.S. Senate. Harry Claiborne was born on July 2, 1917, in the Lebanon community just outside McRae. His father, Arthur Smith Claiborne Jr., was a cotton farmer, and his mother, Minnie King Claiborne, was a schoolteacher. Early on, Claiborne gained a reputation in McRae for his speaking ability, and he would often accompany his grandfather to view court proceedings at the White …

Clarendon Lynching of 1898

On August 9, 1898, Manse (or Manze) Castle, Will Sanders (Saunders), Sanders’s mother Lorilla (Rilla) Weaver, Dennis Ricord (Record, Rikard), and Susie Jacobs—all African American—were lynched in Clarendon (Monroe County) because of their complicity in the murder of prosperous merchant John T. Orr. Rilla Weaver was the cook in the Orr household, and Susie Jacobs worked there as a maid. Rachael Morris, a “prominent young Jewess” who had also been implicated in the plot, escaped and was spared. Orr’s wife, Mabel, who had instigated the murder, lay fatally ill in the nearby jail, having taken poison; she was eventually to die in the jail. With her was the Orrs’ only child, three-year-old Neva. As horrifying as this story is, the …

Clayton, William Henry Harrison

William H. H. Clayton moved to Arkansas in 1864 and like his brothers, Powell Clayton and John Middleton Clayton, he was an important figure in the history of the state during Reconstruction. Most notably, he held the position of district attorney for the Western District of Arkansas. His home in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) was made into a museum. William Henry Harrison Clayton and his twin brother, John Middleton Clayton, were born on October 13, 1840, in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Their parents, John and Ann Clayton, named the boys after the Whig presidential candidates William Henry Harrison and John Tyler. The twins, along with their older brothers, Thomas and Powell, lived on the family farm and received their education at …

Cleburne, Patrick Ronayne

Patrick Ronayne Cleburne became the highest-ranking Irish-born officer in American military history, attaining the rank of major general. He entered the Civil War as commander of the Yell Rifles, which became part of the First Arkansas Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He became a drugstore owner and lawyer in his new Arkansas hometown of Helena (Phillips County) and was a delegate to the Democratic Convention in 1858. Pat Cleburne was born in Ovens, County Cork, Ireland, on March 16, 1828, at Bride Park Cottage to Joseph Cleburne, a doctor, and Mary Anne Ronayne Cleburne. He was the third child and second son of a Protestant, middle-class family that included children Anne, William, and Joseph. His mother died when Cleburne was eighteen months …

Clendenin, John J.

John J. Clendenin was an influential lawyer and judge in Arkansas before and after the Civil War. He also served a short term as a member of the Reconstruction-era Supreme Court of Arkansas. John Joseph Clendenin was born on September 2, 1813, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Not much is known about his youth beyond the fact that to support his widowed mother, as well as his siblings, he worked as a clerk in a Harrisburg-area post office while also gaining some business experience. He also read the law for several years with prominent attorney (and future vice president) George Mifflin Dallas. He then clerked for future senator and secretary of war Simon Cameron. In 1836, Clendenin made his way to Arkansas, …

Clinton v. Jones

The U.S. Supreme Court case Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681 (1997) had the immediate impact of allowing a civil suit filed against President Bill Clinton to proceed while he was in office. In fact, although the case arose from an alleged incident that occurred before Clinton assumed the presidency, his status as president was central to the arguments the Supreme Court had to address. Ultimately, the decision’s more far-reaching impact directly affected the presidency on multiple levels. First, the Court’s ruling both reinforced and extended the idea that the president is not above the law, a concept that had been at the heart of the legal issues surrounding the Watergate affair. In addition, statements made by Clinton in the …

Cockrill, Sterling Robertson

The chief justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court from 1884 to 1893, Sterling Robertson Cockrill was only thirty-seven years old when he ascended the bench as the youngest chief justice in the state’s history (a record he still holds). A product of a law school education rather than the old apprenticeship system, Cockrill strongly embraced the codification of legal procedures that the Republican Party had enacted during Reconstruction and thus moved Arkansas more into the nation’s judicial mainstream. Although his tenure on the court was short, his influence was long-lasting. Sterling Robertson Cockrill was born in Nashville, Tennessee, on September 26, 1847, to Henrietta McDonald Cockrill and her husband, Sterling Robertson Cockrill. Young Cockrill was sometimes identified in Arkansas as …

Cohn, Mathias Abraham

Mathias Abraham Cohn was a businessman, newspaperman, educator, elected official, and lawyer who immigrated to America from Germany. Moving to Arkansas in 1868, Cohn became a leader in the Jewish community of Little Rock (Pulaski County). The son of Abraham and Doris Cohn, Mathias Abraham Cohn was born on May 29, 1824, in Hildesheim, Germany, and was educated in the schools near Bremen, where he also received private instruction in English. He came to the United States prior to 1849, moving to Cincinnati, Ohio. On March 14, 1848, in Cincinnati, he married Theresa Kobner, a native of Odense, Denmark, whom he had met in Hamburg, Germany, and who had arrived in the United States on July 30, 1847; they had …

Cohn, Morris M.

Morris M. Cohn was a nationally recognized lawyer, an author who published articles on a wide variety of subjects, and a Little Rock (Pulaski County) civic leader. Morris M. Cohn was born on March 14, 1852, in New Albany, Indiana, to Mathias Cohn—a businessman, newspaperman, educator, and lawyer—and Theresa Cohn; sources differ on the number of siblings he had, from seven to ten. Cohn received his early education in the grammar schools of Cincinnati, Ohio. He later received private instruction in German, Hebrew, and law. At some point, the family settled in Arkansas. In 1873, he moved from Woodruff County to Little Rock, where he met Addie Mary Ottenheimer, whom he married on September 16, 1886; they had three children. …

Collins v. State

In 1972, with the Furman v. Georgia case, the U.S. Supreme Court suspended use of the death penalty throughout the nation because it found the capital punishment system to be unconstitutional due to arbitrary enforcement. The Furman decision allowed individual states to revise their capital punishment statutes in order to eliminate the subjectivity of the death penalty. Arkansas revised its statutes in March 1973, and in the 1977 Collins v. State case, the Arkansas Supreme Court defended these newly revised statutes. In 1974, Carl Albert Collins was convicted of the murder of John Welch, his employer. Collins first attacked Welch’s wife, Gertrude, and then shot Welch. Collins left both for dead, stole Welch’s wallet, and took his truck. Though John …

Conner, Laura Cornelius

Laura Nancy Cornelius Conner was a prison reformer, educator, and farmer. In the 1920s, she served on the penitentiary board during the governorship of Thomas McRae. Conner was shocked by the conditions in the Arkansas prisons, but despite support from prisoners, community leaders, and legal experts, she was unable to make progress in reforming the penitentiary. She returned to her hometown, where she was an educator and planter until her death. Laura Cornelius was born on October 24, 1864 in Augusta (Woodruff County). She was one of eight children born to William Cornelius and Arabella White Cornelius. Arabella Cornelius died when Laura was three. After the death of her father in 1876, Laura moved in with her sister Ella and …

Consensual Guardianship

The legal matter of consensual guardianship deals with a parent who consents to allow another person to be the guardian of a child and later revokes that consent. This situation usually arises when a parent is temporarily unable to raise a child (perhaps because of illness, financial problems, or criminal issues) and allows a family member or friend to be guardian. Over the years, the legal system in Arkansas first favored the guardian in these situations, then came to favor the parent, then slightly turned back to favoring the guardian. Although the Uniform Probate Code (adopted in whole or in part by many states) expressly states that a parent may consent to a guardianship (§ 5-204), the Arkansas guardianship statutes …

Constitutional Conventions

A constitutional convention is a meeting of delegates to establish a document that serves as the framework for government. Arkansas has had eight conventions. Five conventions resulted in documents being adopted, and three conventions produced documents that were rejected by voters. Arkansas has had at least three failed convention calls. In October 1835, Arkansas’s Territorial Assembly met in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to take steps toward statehood. Legislation calling for a convention was introduced, and the issue of delegate apportionment was raised. An amendment was adopted that provided that convention representation be based on that of the legislature, whose makeup was based upon the number of white men. The legislation called for a convention consisting of fifty-two delegates to be …

Convent Inspection Act of 1915

aka: Act 130 of 1915
aka: Posey Act
The Convent Inspection Act was passed by the Arkansas General Assembly and signed by Governor George Washington Hays in March 1915. The act was not unique to Arkansas, as states such as Georgia and Florida had similar laws. The Arkansas law allowed for sheriffs and constables to inspect convents, hospitals, asylums, seminaries, and rectories on a regular basis. The purpose, as stated in one section, was “to afford every person within the confines of said institutions, the fullest opportunity to divulge the truth to their detention therein.” If twelve citizens petitioned local authorities, law enforcement could enter these facilities day or night without notice. Whatever the stated intention of the legislation, one writer in the Arkansas Gazette on February 17, …

Conway-Crittenden Duel

aka: Crittenden-Conway Duel
In 1827, Henry Wharton Conway and Robert Crittenden, both important figures in territorial Arkansas, fought a duel that had profound implications for the course of Arkansas history. Conway, a former naval officer and governmental employee originally from Tennessee, had relocated to Arkansas for a governmental post and eventually sought political office in Arkansas. Crittenden, originally from Kentucky, also served in the armed forces and later held political positions in Arkansas; he was originally a political supporter of Conway. Both were young, professional, and successful in their own right, but a conflict ensued between the two during an Arkansas election campaign, leading Crittenden to challenge Conway to a duel. Conway and Crittenden were friends and had worked together in an official …

Corbin, Donald Louis

Donald Louis Corbin had a career as a state legislator and appellate judge spanning forty-four years. As a state representative, Corbin developed a reputation as a plainspoken maverick, and, as a judge, a reputation for pushing his colleagues to take unpopular stands, particularly on social issues. As his twenty-four-year career as a justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court was coming to an end in 2014, he had a bitter disagreement with other justices whom he thought had connived to avoid rendering a decision in the controversy over legalizing marriages of same-sex couples. Donald L. Corbin was born on March 29, 1938, in Hot Springs (Garland County), where his father, Louis Emerson Corbin, was a meat-market manager for a Kroger grocery …

Coronado Coal Co. v. United Mine Workers of America

aka: United Mine Workers of America v. Coronado Coal Co.
Coronado Coal Co. v. United Mine Workers of America refers here to two separate cases heard by the U.S. Supreme Court during the tenure of Chief Justice William Howard Taft. Both arose from Arkansas’s Sebastian County Union War of 1914 and featured the same parties: the Coronado Coal Company and District No. 21, a local Arkansas branch of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA). The first case, United Mine Workers of America v. Coronado Coal Co. (1922), was an appeal that ruled in favor of the union. It overturned a lower court decision by the Court of Appeals that found the union in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act during the strike. The Supreme Court, however, found little evidence that …

Corrothers, Helen Gladys Curl

Helen G. Corrothers is a well-respected figure in the world of criminal justice who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to serve on the United States Parole Board and then the United States Sentencing Commission in the 1980s. Helen Gladys Curl was born on March 19, 1937, in Montrose (Ashley County) to Thomas Curl and Christene Farley Curl. Her father died when she was two. Following high school, Corrothers earned an Associate of Arts degree in liberal arts from Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock (Pulaski County). She then entered the U.S. Army, serving from 1956 to 1969. She earned the rank of captain. Over the course of her army career in the Far East, Europe, and the United States, …

County Judge, Office of

Each county in Arkansas has a county judge, who is the chief executive officer of the county, as well as several other countywide office holders including a quorum court (legislative body) made up of justices of the peace elected from single-member districts. The county judge is custodian of county property and public buildings. Counties are essentially subdivisions of the state government. The Arkansas General Assembly controls them to the extent it desires, except as forbidden by state constitutional law. According to the Arkansas Supreme Court, a county is a political subdivision of the state established for a more convenient administration of justice and for purposes of providing services for the state. The highest county executive office is that of county judge. …

Covenant, the Sword and the Arm of the Lord

The Covenant, the Sword and the Arm of the Lord (CSA) is a militia-style organization predominantly located in northern Arkansas, southern Missouri, and western Oklahoma. This organization is loosely affiliated with other white supremacist organizations within the United States, such as the Aryan Nations, The Order, and the Militia of Montana. Between 1976 and 1985, the CSA was involved in various illegal activities such as weapons procurement, counterfeiting, arson, robbery, homicide, and terrorist threats. The CSA was founded by Texas minister James Ellison in 1971 near Elijah, Missouri. In 1976, Ellison purchased a 220-acre farm near Bull Shoals Lake in Marion County, Arkansas (approximately seven miles southwest of Pontiac, Missouri), in order to establish a CSA compound known as Zarephath-Horeb. …

Coy, Edward (Lynching of)

On February 20, 1892, Edward Coy, a thirty-two-year-old African-American man, was burned at the stake in Texarkana (Miller County) before a crowd of approximately 1,000 people. Ida B. Wells, a journalist and prominent anti-lynching crusader from Memphis, Tennessee, described Coy’s murder as one of the most shocking and repulsive in the history of lynching. Coy, described in press accounts as “mulatto,” was charged with a crime “from which the laws provide adequate punishment. Ed Coy was charged with assaulting Mrs. Henry [Julia] Jewell, a white woman. A mob pronounced him guilty, strapped him to a tree, chipped the flesh from his body, poured coal oil over him, and the woman in the case set fire to him.” According to the …

Crawford, Maud Robinson

Maud Robinson Crawford, a lawyer with the Gaughan, McClellan and Laney law firm in Camden (Ouachita County), mysteriously disappeared from her stately Colonial home on Saturday night, March 2, 1957, at age sixty-five. U.S. Senator John L. McClellan, a former partner in the law firm, was at the time of her disappearance the chairman of a high-profile Senate investigation into alleged mob ties to organized labor. The disappearance of Sen. McClellan’s former associate was international news, a first assumption being that she had been kidnapped by the Mafia to intimidate the senator. When no ransom note appeared, however, the theory was rejected by law enforcement. No body was ever found, and the case was never solved. Maud Robinson was born …

Criminal Justice Institute

The Criminal Justice Institute (CJI) is a nonprofit educational entity that provides programs and services designed to enhance the proficiency of Arkansas law enforcement professionals. As a division of the University of Arkansas System, the CJI delivers advanced education and training across the state in progressive areas of criminal justice, including law enforcement management, forensic sciences, computer applications, traffic safety, school safety, and drug issues. The Criminal Justice Institute was founded in 1988 on the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) campus to address the management education and training needs of Arkansas law enforcement. Act 1111 of 1993 designated the institute as coordinator and manager of all supervisory, managerial, and executive education and training for Arkansas law enforcement. The …

Cummins Prison Break of 1940

The Cummins prison break on the morning of September 2, 1940, which was Labor Day, involved the escape of thirty-six white men from Cummins Unit (often referred to as Cummins prison farm), the largest of the three prison units in the state. The escape is the largest in Arkansas history. All the men were ultimately captured or killed by authorities. Four of the escapees were executed in Louisiana in 1941 for the murder of a deputy the day after they broke out of Cummins; these men claimed they escaped because of the horrible conditions at the prison farm. Despite an investigation into conditions at the prison, no serious attempt at reform was initiated. The 1940 escape was the first major …

Cummins Prison Strike of 1974

The Cummins prison strike of 1974 was a non-violent incident involving 200 inmates who stopped work for twenty minutes on Monday, October 14, to protest conditions at the Cummins prison farm. At 1,350 inmates at that time, Cummins—located five miles southeast of Grady (Lincoln County)—was the largest of the Arkansas prison farms. The strike was swiftly stopped by Cummins superintendent Art Lockhart, who used riot guards to ensure that prisoners returned quickly to work without any violence. By Tuesday, Cummins had returned to normal. The strike revealed that inmates could peacefully protest at that time without fear of severe physical punishment. It also showed that unrest still existed, and the prisons had more work to do before they achieved compliance …

Cummins Unit

aka: Cummins Prison Farm
Cummins Unit is a 16,600-acre maximum-security prison located five miles southeast of Grady (Lincoln County). Cummins is run by the Arkansas Department of Correction and houses male and female inmates. It is also the location of Arkansas’s facilities for administering the death penalty. Cummins is the oldest and largest of the state’s working “prison farms,” which use inmate labor to grow crops and produce livestock. In 1897, the Arkansas General Assembly established that the state could purchase “any lands, buildings, machinery, livestock and tools necessary for the use, preservation, and operation of the penitentiary.” In 1902, the state bought 10,000 acres of property—consisting of land from the Cummins and Maple Grove plantations—to create the Cummins prison farm. Cummins would later gain …