The Cummins Unit (formerly known as Cummins State Farm) is an Arkansas Department of Correction prison in unincorporated Lincoln County, Arkansas, United States. It is located along U.S. Route 65, near Grady and Template:Convert/mi south of Pine Bluff.
This prison farm is a 16,000 acre (65 km²) correctional facility. The prison first opened in 1902 and has a capacity of 1725 inmates. Cummins housed Arkansas's male death row until 1986, when it was transferred first to the Tucker Maximum Security Unit. The State of Arkansas execution chamber is located in the Cummins Unit, adjacent to the location of the male death row, the Varner Unit. The female death row is located at the McPherson Unit.
In 1902 the State of Arkansas purchased about Template:Convert/acre of land for $140,000 to build the Cummins Unit. In 1933 Governor of Arkansas Junius Marion Futrell closed the Arkansas State Penitentiary ("The Walls), and some prisoners moved to Cummins from the former penitentiary. In 1972 Arkansas's first prison rodeo was held at the Cummins Unit. In 1974 death row inmates, previously at the Tucker Unit, were moved to the Cummins Unit. In 1976 female inmates were moved from the Cummins Unit to the Pine Bluff Unit. In 1978 a new execution chamber opened at Cummins Unit. In 1986 death row inmates were moved to the Maximum Security Unit. In 2000 Arkansas's first lethal electrified fence, built with inmate labor, opened at the Cummins Unit.
In 1968, Tom Murton alleged that three human skeletons found on the farm were the remains of inmates who had been subjected to torture, prompting a publicized investigation which found "a prison hospital served as torture chamber and a doctor as chief tormentor."
The revelations included allegations of electrical devices connected to the genitalia of inmates. The Arkansas State Penitentiary System at that time had already been found to have held inmates at the Cummins Unit under conditions rising to the level of unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment, in cases tried by the US District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, among others.
"Certain characteristics of the Arkansas prison system serve to distinguish it from most other penal institutions in this country. First, it has very few paid employees; armed trusties ["trusted" inmates, according to the source] guard rank and file inmates and trusties perform other tasks usually and more properly performed by civilian or "free world" personnel. Second, convicts not in isolation are confined when not working, and are required to sleep at night in open dormitory type barracks in which rows of beds are arranged side by side; there are large numbers of men in each barracks. Third, there is no meaningful program of rehabilitation whatever at Cummins; while there is a promising and helpful program at Tucker, it is still minimal."
- Trusty system
- Gates v. Collier
- List of law enforcement agencies in Arkansas
- List of United States state correction agencies
- List of U.S. state prisons
- The Shame of the Prisons (Time magazine)
- New Chapter in Horror (The Nation, National Digital Archive)
- One Year of Prison Reform (The Nation, National Digital Archive)
- Arkansas Department of Correction: Prison History
- Factor 8: The Arkansas Prison Blood Scandal Movie Factor 8: The Arkansas Prison Blood Scandal
- Bruce Jackson, Killing Time: Life in the Arkansas Penitentiary. Cornell University Press, 1977
- "Cummins Unit." Arkansas Department of Correction. Retrieved on August 15, 2010.
- "State Capitol Week in Review." State of Arkansas. June 13, 2008. Retrieved on August 15, 2010. "Executions are carried out in the Cummins Unit, which is adjacent to Varner."
- Haddigan, Michael. "They Kill Women, Don't They?" Arkansas Times. April 9, 1999. Retrieved on August 15, 2010.
- "Prison History and Gallery." Arkansas Department of Correction. Retrieved on September 7, 2010.
- "2006 Facts Brochure." Arkansas Department of Correction. July 1, 2005-June 30, 2006. 25 (25/38). Retrieved on August 15, 2010.
- von Zielbauer, Paul and Joseph Plambeck. "As Health Care in Jails Goes Private, 10 Days Can Be a Death Sentence." The New York Times. February 27, 2005. 4. Retrieved on July 11, 2010.
- "Holt v. Sarver". U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Max Pages. 1970. http://maxpages.com/arklaw/Holt_v_Sarver_II_Part_1. Retrieved July 11, 2010.