The State Police today released the file it put together after being called to Varner Super Max when Death Row inmate Don Davis apparently made a suicide attempt July 12. It reveals he was sprayed with a chemical agent to stop from cutting his throat with a razor blade and also indicates he was resisting being moved to another cell, a disciplinary action for having been found under influence of a prohibited substance.

The Correction Department has refused to provide information about what it calls an “incident,” claiming all internal communication about the episode amounts of an inmate record exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. But the State Police was able to obtain some of those records.


Correction officers were concerned about Davis, State Police said at the time, and when they went to check on him he produced a razor blade and put it to his throat, causing unspecified injuries. He was hospitalized for a time and then returned to prison. He’s been awaiting execution since a 1994 capital murder conviction in Benton County, but appeals have delayed his execution, including an argument by his attorneys that he is mentally unfit for execution.

State Police didn’t treat this as a crime, but compiled a record of events as a result of being called. That report says Davis apparently had hidden the blade in his cell, despite extreme security for Death Row inmates, and also indicated he was facing a cell move, a disciplinary measure, for being under influence of a prohibited substance. It’s unknown if that was alcohol or drugs.


He also left what appeared to be a suicide note, leaving belongings to a preacher and to Betsey Wright, the former chief of staff under Gov. Bill Clinton who for years visited Death Row inmates dozens of times until she was arrested for taking contraband into a prison unit. She pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges to taking a pocket knife and craft knife into the prison. It was inadvertent she said.

No execution date is currently set for Davis.


A report to the warden said that about 4 p.m. July 12, a group of corrections officers went to Davis’ cell to move him as a disciplinary measure. He said if he was moved behind a “solid door,” he’d probably kill himself. Davis said he wouldn’t go and picked up a razor blade and began cutting his throat and wrist. A burst of chemical spray made him stop and he then received medical attention at the prison before transfer to a Pine Bluff hospital. A subsequent search of the cell turned up a brief handwritten note directing that his belongings be given to Father Jack Harris and any money in his prison account to Betsey Wright.

“I am doing this because it is time for me to go home,” the note said. “I have been here for too long.”

Here’s the full State Police report.

I’ve put a series of questions to the Correction Department about the blade, the substance that prompted his disciplinary and the circumstances of his current cell.


UPDATE: Prison spokesman Solomon Graves provided the following answers to questions:

Do you have any idea how he obtained the razor blade? What type of blade was it precisely?

Inmates are provided razors for shaving, as needed. The department is continuing to review the factors which led to this incident, the substance of your questions among them.

What type of cell is he now held in? Is it a cell with bars or a solid door?

Davis is currently housed on Death Row behind a solid door.

Do you know how he obtained the substance that prompted the disciplinary?

The department is continuing to review the factors which led to this incident, the substance of your question among them.

Was it drugs or alcohol?

The department is continuing to review the factors which led to this incident, the substance of your question among them.

Is any disciplinary action contemplated against him or prison personnel as a result?

Davis’s disciplinary record since July 1, 2015 is available online through our Inmate Search Tool. His most recent disciplinaries were on July 12th for the following:

Unauthorized Use Of Mail Or Telephone


Failure To Obey Order


Out Of Place Assignment


Under The Influence


Note that the last indicates he was under influence on the day he cut himself.