The Varner Unit is a high-security state prison for men in the Arkansas Department of Corrections, and it was opened in 1987 to house Arkansas’ rising number of criminal offenders. It currently houses over 1,700 inmates.
This facility is comprised of two separate units, the Varner unit and Varner Supermax Unit. The Supermax Unit was added to the institution in 2000 to segregate inmates of different security levels, and in 2003, Varner Supermax transitioned into specifically housing all of Arkansas’ death row male inmate population. However, the actual executions took place at another correctional facility─Cummins Unit.
After adding the Supermax Unit to hold prisoners waiting for execution, the ADC installed an electric fence between two non-electric fences in the Varner Unit.Notable inmates that have been housed at The Varner Unit include the West Memphis Three. The unit’s longtime use in incarcerating male juvenile offenders led to it being nicknamed the, “Gladiator School.”
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Visiting Hours and Rules
Visiting hours at the Varner Unit are on Saturdays and Sundays between noon and 4:00 p.m. However, there is a rotating schedule based on housing unit and custody level, so you must contact the inmate to find out their approved visiting hours.
How to get on the approved visiting list
Anyone who wishes to visit an inmate at Varner Unit must complete a visitation application and return it to the address listed on the form to the attention of the Visitation Clerk. Do not mail it directly to the inmate because it will not be processed.
The inmate is responsible for providing visitors with applications. Applications are then processed, reviewed and either approved or denied by the Warden. The screening process can take seven days or longer. A criminal history check is done on all prospective visitors.
- Minor children, under age 18, may not be allowed to visit unless accompanied by an approved adult visitor, or upon proof of emancipation.
- Visitors age 12 and older are required to provide state-issued photo identification for entry into an Arkansas correctional facility.
- Approved visitors may not be listed on more than one inmate's visitation list unless the visitor is confirmed as an immediate family member of each inmate and approved by the Warden or Center Supervisor.
Anyone who is not on an inmate's approved visitation list will not be allowed to visit.
General Visiting Rules
Any person or vehicle entering a correctional unit can be searched for contraband. Visitors in wheelchairs and those wearing wigs or religious headgear are also subject to search. If a wig or religious headgear is being worn, the visitor will be searched outside the presence of other visitors by an employee of the same gender.
Entrance will be denied if a visitor is not willing to submit to a search. Visitors must also pass through a metal detector. Varner Unit randomly drug tests visitors by use of an Ion Scanner. A positive scan can lead to a search of the visitor and his or her vehicle.
Visitors are not allowed to bring cameras, pagers, cellular phones, pocket knives, or food into a facility.
Visitors are allowed to bring:
- A small coin purse, billfold, or clear plastic bag to hold money for the vending machines
- Baby bottles, baby diapers, diaper wipes
- Car keys
- Jewelry (being worn)
If you are unable to successfully clear all entrance procedures, you will be denied entry.
Visitors’ clothing must be appropriate for the age and occasion. Please dress modestly because provocative clothing is not permitted.
No halter-tops, sleeveless shirts, tank tops, hats, shorts, mini-skirts/dresses, see-through clothing, leggings, jeggings, or camouflage attire may be worn.
Children ten years of age and under are allowed to wear shorts of an appropriate length.
Metal on clothing items should be avoided due to delays in clearing security equipment when additional search procedures are required.
28 miles south of Pine Bluff, Arkansas
off Highway 65 in Lincoln County
Driving Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/gXwBEgfAWCGG8QBy7
General Phone Number
Inmate Mailing Address(es)
Inmate’s Name and ADC Number
P.O. Box 600
Grady, AR 71644-0600
This address is for letters only. Don’t send care packages because they will not be given to the inmate. If you want to send books, magazines, newspapers, or catalogs, they must be mailed directly from the publisher or vendor.
In order to reduce contraband in Varner Unit, the staff makes photocopies of all inmate mail instead of giving them your actual letter. It is best to keep your correspondence simple. Use no more than two sheets of regular notebook or typing paper, and only write with dark ink (black or blue).
Inmates will receive two sheets of copy paper, which will include a copy of the envelope and the correspondence.
Even though you can’t mail food or care packages to an inmate, Arkansas is part of the Inmate Package Program. This allows you to buy up to $100 of goods through participating vendors at different times throughout the year. For more information, click on one of the links below.
There is now an option for email and photos through www.accesscorrections.com, but you will need to open an account with them first before sending any correspondence.
All snail mail and email is subject to review by the facility staff prior to delivery, so make sure your content is appropriate.
How to Call an Inmate
You can’t call an inmate directly when they are incarcerated in an Arkansas correctional facility. However, most inmates do have access to phones during the daytime hours. For complete details on how to call an inmate in Arkansas, please click here.
How to Send Money
One of the most-appreciated things you can do to support your loved one who is behind bars is to send them some money. Inmates with jobs usually don’t make more than ten to twenty dollars per month, and those who are in school trying to earn their GED aren’t allowed to work.
Just like in the real world, money is important behind bars. Each week, inmates can place an order at the prison commissary where they can buy things like food, clothing, stationary, stamps, and electronics.
You can send money to an inmate three different ways: online, phone, or US Mail.
The fastest way to send money to an inmate at the Varner Unit is the ONLINE INMATE DEPOSIT SERVICE through the Arkansas Department of Corrections. This method requires a credit or debit card, and it does have a processing fee. Prepaid cards and payroll cards are not accepted.
You can also send money to an inmate by calling 1-866-250-7697. You will need a credit or debit card for this method, and there is a small processing fee.
If you prefer snail mail, there are a couple of things to remember.
- Only send money orders
- Don’t send cash or a check
- Don’t mail it directly to the prisoner
- Always include a Money Order Deposit Slip
- Mail your money order to:
Arkansas Department of Correction:
Trust Fund Centralized Banking
P.O. Box 8908
Pine Bluff, AR 71611
Money orders should be made payable to the inmate’s name, and you must include their ADC number.
Programs For Inmates
- GED Program
GED classes are offered at Varner Unit and the Board of Correction requires anyone without a GED or high school diploma to attend classes unless they are unable to participate due to health reasons.
- Mental Health Classes
Mental health classes are offered to the inmate population to address anger control, criminal behavior, and criminal thinking in an effort to reduce recidivism and decrease criminal behavior. Some of the classes offered include: Anger Management, Communication Skills, Domestic Violence (Perpetrators), Parenting Skills, Stress Management, Substance Abuse Education (SAE), Thinking Errors, and Victims of Domestic Violence.
- Principles and Applications for Life (PAL) Program
The PAL Program is faith-based and includes worship services, religious materials, and counseling services to all inmates within the ADC who wish to participate.
The program is about how to change your approach to everyday decisions and life, financial affairs, becoming a leader/servant in your home, community, church, and parenting.
- Substance Abuse Treatment Program
This is a four to six month residential treatment program, based on cognitive/reality therapy of treatment for chemical dependency utilizing a modified therapeutic community.
- Think Legacy Program
Inmates can sign up for the voluntary Think Legacy Program when they are between six and 18 months from their release date.
The program prepares inmates for reentry into society, and covers topics like: Employment Readiness, Community Resources, Social Skill Readiness, Mentoring, Cognitive Behavior Awareness through, “Thinking for a Change,” Victim Impact, Budgeting, Life Skills, Healthy Relationships, and Family Reunification.
This is a job skills training program developed and managed by Riverside Vo-Tech and funded through the Department of Workforce Education. Courses include, but are not limited to: automotive mechanics, building maintenance, plumbing, and food service technology.
Pictures of Varner Unit
Careers at Varner Unit
If you are interested in pursuing a career with the Arkansas Department of Corrections, you can find available positions at the Varner Unit by visiting the ADC website.