Time Period: Divergent Prosperity and the Arc of Reform (1968–2022)

Abba House

Abba House was established by the Catholic Diocese of Little Rock in 1981 to offer a home to pregnant women and their children who have no place to go. It also serves as an emergency shelter for homeless women. The thirteen-bed facility in Little Rock (Pulaski County) provides shelter, food, and clothing for the women, who may stay two to six weeks after giving birth until they find a place to live. The emergency shelter is available to the homeless for up to three weeks. The Missionaries of Charity sisters, the religious order established by Mother Teresa of Calcutta, have run Abba House since 1983. Four of the sisters live in a convent next to the shelter on South Oak …

Abrams, Annie Mable McDaniel

Annie Mable McDaniel Abrams is a retired educator and a political, social, civic, and community activist in Little Rock (Pulaski County). She was instrumental in campaigns to rename various Little Rock streets in honor of Daisy Bates and Mayor Charles Bussey. Most notably, she was a leader in the campaign resulting in the renaming of High Street in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. and in the institution of Little Rock’s first Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade. Annie McDaniel was born on September 25, 1931, in Arkadelphia (Clark County). She is the eldest of four children born to Queen Victoria Annie Katherine Reed. McDaniel’s father died when she was eighteen months old, and she was reared with the help …

Accomplices to the Crime

Accomplices to the Crime is penologist Thomas O. Murton’s 1969 nonfiction account of his efforts to reform the Arkansas prisons during the administration of Governor Winthrop Rockefeller. The book provides a graphic description of the brutality and corruption at Tucker Unit in Jefferson County, where Murton spent most of his time as a prison manager. The book also examines Murton’s brief but controversial tenure at Cummins Unit in Lincoln County. The book, written by Murton and Hollywood writer Joe Hyams, sold well and became the basis for the 1980 film Brubaker, starring Robert Redford. Some of the claims Murton made in the book, however, were later challenged. The book begins with the Murton arriving in Arkansas, where he was responsible …

Act 1220 of 2003

aka: Childhood Obesity Act
Act 1220 of 2003, which launched comprehensive efforts to curb childhood obesity in Arkansas, established one of the nation’s first statewide, school-focused initiatives to help children reach and maintain a healthy weight. Shaped largely by key legislators, including Senator Hershel Cleveland, with input from state and national public health experts, the act passed through the Arkansas General Assembly with strong support from the House and Senate under the administration of Governor Mike Huckabee. After passage, however, several components of the act faced vocal opposition. Opponents feared the largely unfunded mandates would strain educational and healthcare systems in addition to shaming overweight students. This vocal opposition prompted changes to the act in the years following its passage. Subsequent evaluation of Act …

Act 250 of 2021

aka: Stand-Your-Ground Law
On March 3, 2021, Governor Asa Hutchinson signed into law Act 250, a so-called “stand-your-ground” bill. This bill eliminated the “duty to retreat” prior to the use of physical force, even lethal force, in an act of alleged self-defense. Such laws, often called “shoot first” laws by their critics, have been highly controversial, being linked in some studies to increased murder rates in those states that passed them.  Modern “stand-your-ground” legislation has its genesis in 2005 in the state of Florida and swiftly spread to some twenty-five other states by 2020, supported by the National Rifle Association and the American Legislative Exchange Council. Each of Arkansas’s neighboring states passed such legislation years before Arkansas did. A review of gun death statistics by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in 2021 found that, in all but one of Arkansas’s …

Act 38 of 1971

Act 38 of 1971, which reorganized sixty state government agencies into thirteen cabinet-level departments, was the culmination of reform efforts that had begun during the administration of Governor Winthrop Rockefeller but were only achieved under Governor Dale Bumpers, who was widely credited with the successful passage of the measure. Bumpers described the act, which was designed to increase the economy and efficiency of state government, as the most vital part of his legislative program. As the first general reorganization of state government in the twentieth century, Act 38 was hailed for simplifying state operations and curbing graft. Prior to Act 38, the governor had little authority to dismiss uncooperative or corrupt agency heads, who served at the pleasure of their …

Act 626 of 2021

aka: Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act
aka: HB 1570
Act 626 of 2021 was the first ever bill passed in the United States to outlaw any gender-affirming medical treatment for persons under eighteen years of age. It became law over the veto of Governor Asa Hutchinson on April 6, 2021, attracting national and international criticism of the Arkansas legislature. Groundbreaking though the bill was, it was but one of many passed during the 2021 Arkansas General Assembly that specifically targeted trans citizens, and Arkansas was one of more than thirty states in 2021 in which Republican Party legislators introduced such bills. House Bill 1570, dubbed the “Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act,” was written by Representative Robin Lundstrum of Elm Springs (Washington and Benton counties) and introduced into the Arkansas House of Representatives on February 25, 2021. The following reasons …

Act 710 of 2017

aka: Anti-BDS Law
Act 710 of 2017 prohibits the state from contracting with, or investing in, companies that “boycott Israel.” The law was passed at a time when the BDS movement (boycott, divestment, sanctions) was gaining increasing success internationally, sparking a backlash, especially in the United States, a country with significant military and economic ties to the nation of Israel, as well as a large population of evangelical Christians who believe that American support for Israel is necessary for advancing the Second Coming of Christ. The BDS movement formally originated in 2005 as part of the Palestinian-led resistance to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory. The movement was inspired by similar actions taken internationally against the apartheid regime of South Africa and sought to …