A Craighead County deputy prosecuting attorney has joined the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Arkansas as a special assistant U.S. attorney, as part of an effort to reduce violent crime in northeast Arkansas.
U.S. Attorney Cody Hiland announced his hiring of Charlene Davidson Henry of Jonesboro, who has practiced law in Arkansas since 1999, to help his office continue to focus on reducing violent crime in Craighead County.
U.S. attorney offices across the country are authorized to hire state prosecutors as special assistants, which equips state prosecutors to work on federal cases while maintaining their state positions.
“We are confident that Ms. Henry’s training and experience will make her an asset to our team and will have an impact in reducing violent crime in Northeast Arkansas,” Hiland said.
Hiland said Henry will handle firearm investigations as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a nationwide collaborative initiative to identify the most pressing violent crimes in a community and develop comprehensive solutions.
He noted that since 2017, the Eastern District of Arkansas has emphasized partnerships with special assistants in order to carry an increased caseload. He said that in 2018, federal prosecutions in the district increased by 82%, largely based on prosecutions of felons found in possession of firearms.
“This increase resulted in federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of Arkansas having the fifth-highest caseload in the nation,” Hiland said.
He attributed a 24% reduction in homicides in Little Rock in 2018 to a heavy focus on prosecuting violent crimes.
Hiland noted that during the same year, similar efforts in West Memphis produced a 43% decrease in homicides. His office reported that both cities also saw reductions in non-fatal shootings, terroristic acts and battery cases.
“We want these efforts with our state and local partners to continue making a difference in the communities we serve, and Craighead County is no exception,” Hiland said in a prepared statement.
Scott Ellington, prosecuting attorney for the 2nd Judicial District, called Henry “an outstanding lawyer.” He added, “She is tough but fair, and her experience as a public defender makes her especially qualified to evaluate cases from the prosecution side. Our office is proud to participate in this joint endeavor with our federal partners by sharing the talents of one of our best prosecutors.”
Henry worked 13 years as an attorney for the Arkansas Public Defender Commission.
In Craighead County, she prosecutes digital crimes, sex crimes and gun crimes. She was a coordinator for the district’s Organized Criminal Activity Task Force, which investigates drug trafficking, money laundering, gun crimes and violent crimes such as murder, aggravated assault and robbery, some associated with street gangs.
She is a graduate of East Tennessee State University and the University of South Dakota School of Law.