Death Row On The Move

August 26, 2003 - Posted at 8:48 a.m. CDT

VARNER, Ark. -- All 39 of the state's death row inmates were moved permanently to the Varner Supermax Unit in Lincoln County on Friday.

For the past 10 years, they were held at the Tucker Maximum Security Unit in Jefferson County, but more beds opened earlier this year at Varner allowing them to move to the more secure facility.

Two inmates awaiting execution already were at the Supermax Unit for disciplinary reasons.  The other 37 inmates were taken from Tucker early Friday morning in a 20-vehicle caravan escorted by the Arkansas State Police.

The transfer was not announced earlier or even announced to the inmates beforehand because officials did not want them to consider escaping.

Executions will still be carried out at the Cummins Unit in Lincoln County.

Correction Department spokeswoman Dina Tyler said the new facilities at Varner are more secure than those at Tucker, especially the walls.  Varner has pre-cast concrete walls, compared to the cinder blocks of Tucker that are only reinforced with steel along outside walls.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.