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Coordinates: The Tucker Unit is a prison in Tucker, Dudley Lake Township, unincorporated Jefferson County, Arkansas, 25 miles (40 km) northeast of Pine Bluff. It is operated by the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC). Tucker is one of the state of Arkansas's "parent units" for male prisoners; it serves as one of several units of initial assignment for processed male prisoners.
A Maximum Security Unit was constructed a short distance north of the Tucker Unit in 1983.
In 1916 the State of Arkansas purchased about 4,400 acres (1,800 ha) of land to build the Tucker Unit. In 1933 Governor of Arkansas Junius Marion Futrell closed the Arkansas State Penitentiary ("The Walls), and some prisoners moved to Tucker from the former penitentiary. In the process the designated execution chamber moved to Tucker. "Old Sparky", in operation within the state system from 1926 to 1948, was the equipment used to kill condemned prisoners at Tucker. In 1964 Charles Fields was executed at Tucker; he was the last prisoner to be executed at Tucker before the Arkansas death penalty was declared against the U.S. constitution. In history, the prison housed the state's White convicts. In addition the prison housed some black female prisoners.
The Arkansas prison scandal occurred in the unit and involved the "Tucker telephone." Due to the notoriety of the device, as of 2000 visitors to the Tucker Unit on a regular basis ask the warden if the telephone on his/her desk is the "Tucker Telephone."
In 1974 death row inmates, previously at the Tucker Unit, were moved to the Cummins Unit. In 1978 a new death chamber opened in Cummins, so Tucker was no longer the place of execution in Arkansas.
In 2000 the ADC's final 100 person barracks was split into two smaller barracks.
In 2009 prison guards left a prisoner in his own feces for a weekend. The prisoner had to be hospitalized. The Associated Press discovered that prison guards had received lap dances while working. The prison system fired several correctional employees. The same year, a Heber Springs, Arkansas man who was wanted for not reporting to his parole officer appeared at the Tucker Unit. A prison guard shot him dead. Dina Tyler, a spokesperson for the prison system, said that the man crashed his car into the car owned by the assistant warden and was "very close to the officers" prior to his death.
Of the land at the Tucker Unit, 4,500 acres (1,800 ha) are used to farm rice and soybeans.
In historical eras, white prisoners worked in the fields, and the prison housed clothing, license plate, and shoe factories.
As of 2009, 532 prisoners live in the Maximum Security Unit. That year, of the prisoners, 100 live in a barrack-style dormitory and have jobs in the prison.