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An inmate seeking a new pair of sneakers was one of several state prisoners to have his request shot down by lawmakers during their review of claims made against the state.

On Monday, the Arkansas Legislative Council's Claims Review Subcommittee met and ruled on 21 different claims that had been made and adjudicated within the Arkansas Claims Commission, which hears from individuals and businesses requesting restitution from the state that would otherwise be barred by sovereign immunity in state court.

Of the claims reviewed by lawmakers, 14 were from state prisoners, and legislators denied compensation to all but one.

Kenneth Pitts, 59, whose shoe request was denied, is a serial sex offender and was most recently sentenced in 2006 to serve 75 years for sex crimes committed in Pulaski County.

In March 2014, Pitts was sent to an isolation unit for nearly three months, and before going into the unit, turned over his personal property to the prison's property-control officers.

When he was released back into general population June 10 at the Tucker Unit in Jefferson County, Pitts recovered his property and signed a form acknowledging receipt of the items.

But Pitts later said his canvas Reebok Classics, size 12, had never been returned.

He filed a complaint with the claims commission on July 30, 2014, demanding payment for the lost shoes and on March 13, 2015, the commission found the prison officials liable and ordered them to issue Pitts a voucher for $36.42.

Attorneys for the state prison system appealed the commission's ruling.

Ultimately, lawmakers voted to reverse the commission's decision and not grant Pitts a new pair of shoes.

Rep. Bob Ballinger, R-Hindsville, the subcommittee's co-chairman, said Pitts' inability to follow the process in place at prison led lawmakers to deny him new shoes.

"I don't think it's the right place to put the onus on the Department of Corrections to make sure [the inmates] got all their stuff," Ballinger said.

Another inmate won an adjusted claim for compensation after a February attack that left him with several injuries and chronic headaches.

Tim Axelson, 47, who is serving a 25-year sentence for rape, filed a complaint with the commission in April 2014 claiming that prison guards failed to follow procedures when they admitted an unauthorized inmate into his barrack, and that inmate brutally beat Axelson while Axelson was in his bed.

Axelson had asked for $15,000, but the commission granted him a $1,000 award. Both Axelson and attorneys for the state appealed the ruling.

Lawmakers agreed that Axelson should receive the $1,000, saying they were convinced that guards didn't follow proper protocol before the attack.

Lawmakers did not receive testimony from any of the prisoners.

Ballinger said it wouldn't be wise to take inmates to the proceedings, calling it "a field trip that costs a lot of money."

Metro on 09/15/2015

Print Headline: Prisoner's lost Reeboks his own fault, legislative panel rules

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Archived Comments

  • GoBigRed
    September 15, 2015 at 8:26 a.m.

    Thank goodness. All that money spent to save the State $36.42.

  • itryed
    September 15, 2015 at 11:38 a.m.

    These tennis shoes are news because.....?

  • Kharma
    September 15, 2015 at 11:55 a.m.

    Prisoners who have nothing to do all day like to play jailhouse lawyer. Sometimes they succeed in getting their grievances heard. In the whole however this shoe affair seems to be much ado over nothing. There are probably more newsworthy events to report.

  • Murphy01
    September 15, 2015 at 2:50 p.m.

    If he hadn't gotten himself thrown in jail to begin with he wouldn't have such problems.

  • BEARTRAP919
    September 15, 2015 at 3:57 p.m.

    So much time and State Tax Money spent to save the State THIRTY SIX DOLLARS AND FORTY TWO CENTS seems to me like the State Strained the Fly but Swallowed the Horse. And it is all the Fault of the Prisoner. One even says it is the Prisoners fault because he could have avoided it by not doing wrong and getting locked up, What kind of Crap is this Hairbrained bull hockey, We are supposed to be talking about facts, not Bill O'Reilly Crap. The State took his Shoes, The State lost his Shoes, And the State spent several thousand dollars defending the claim to save 36 plus change, that is one great trade off I am thinking, I am so glad we have Conservatives running the State of Arkansas NOW.

  • Morebeer
    September 15, 2015 at 4:33 p.m.

    Inmates don't generate much sympathy. But look at the scenario. The state is represented by a phalanx of lawyers, and the claimant has no lawyer and isn't allowed to make his case in person. Ballinger thinks he could have been more careful in his inventory, so it's his fault. Let's throw Ballinger in solitary for 3 months and see how he completes an inventory when he gets out. The state lost the man's tennis shoes, and it owes him a new pair. Instead, it stomped on him.

  • Kharma
    September 15, 2015 at 4:58 p.m.

    Surprisingly prisoners, thugs, and ne'er-do-wells often seem to garner more support on these pages than do their victims

  • itryed
    September 15, 2015 at 5:21 p.m.

    Spike said it best, "It's all about the SHOES!"

  • Murphy01
    September 15, 2015 at 9:54 p.m.

    All you bleeding hearts that feel so sorry for this mistreated sex offender put your money where your fat mouths are and send this piece trash a new pair of shoes. No more talk just do it. By the looks of the comments above I expect him to have at least three new pair of shoes by Monday

  • Morebeer
    September 15, 2015 at 10:46 p.m.

    Justice denied should sting every citizen. Of course, if you have a dead brain like murphy, you can't feel a sting or anything else.

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