August 5, 1846
Arkansas’s attempt to build a penal system based on rehabilitation ended when prisoners rioted and burned the newly constructed prison in Little Rock (Pulaski County). The Arkansas General Assembly had established the state’s first prison in 1838. The new prison was modeled on the Auburn System, which was first used in a prison in Auburn, New York. Reform-minded supporters thought convicts could be rehabilitated through working to pay for the cost of imprisoning them. Because prisoners working did not turn out to be as profitable as hoped and the legislature refused to appropriate enough money to make up the difference, the lack of funding led to inhumane conditions, culminating in the destructive fire.