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COVID-19 Inside Arkansas Prisons: The Past and Future

A guard holds a drink while prisoners work in the field behind him at the Cummins Unit. This photo is from 1975, when folklorist and documentarian Bruce Jackson gained rare photographic access to daily life at Cummins.

In a three-part series supported by the National Geographic Society's COVID-19 Emergency Fund for Journalists, multimedia reporter Anna Stitt takes an extensive look at the impact the coronavirus outbreak has had in Arkansas prisons. In the last three months, nearly 1,200 inmates in four state prisons have tested positive for COVID-19. At least 134 staff working at eight state prisons have also tested positive. The final report of this series, examines the past and future of the Cummins Unit, which is the state’s oldest and largest prison and is named after one of the slave plantations that had been there before.

Anna Stitt is an award-winning multimedia reporter. She grew up in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, graduated from Swarthmore College and the Transom Story Workshop, and spent several years as a news producer at KNWA-TV in Fayetteville and KSTP-TV in Minneapolis. Her audio work has been featured on public radio stations across the U.S. She produced the series on COVID-19 in Arkansas prisons through a grant from the National Geographic Society.
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