"Prisons Officials Seek Fix to Arkansas Execution Law," is the AP report, via Arkansas Business.
Correction officials are trying to figure out how to rework Arkansas' lethal injection law after the state's top court threw out the statute earlier this year, officials told legislators Tuesday.
"We know we're going to be challenged on whatever we come up with, but we're looking for guidance from other states, the federal bureau and the attorney general's office," Department of Correction Director Ray Hobbs told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "We're just trying to come up with something that we think will allow us to carry out executions."
Hobbs' visit to the Capitol on Tuesday came after the Arkansas Supreme Court June sided with a number of death row inmates who argued that the 2009 law violated part of the state's constitution that deals with separating the branches of government.
"The court concluded that the existing statute violated the separation of powers doctrine in the Arkansas Constitution by delegating too much authority to the Department of Correction, but it was very vague in how the statute should be changed," Deputy Attorney General Dennis Hansen told legislators Tuesday.
The 2009 law said death sentences are to be carried out by lethal injection of one or more chemicals that the director of the Department of Correction chooses.
It's not clear exactly what will replace the law, but Hansen said it may be enough to remove language granting the Department of Correction's director discretion when it comes to choosing what kind of drug or drugs are used in lethal injections.
"State’s lethal injection law under revision," is by Rob Moritz for the Arkansas News Bureau.
A rewrite of Arkansas’ execution law is in the works for consideration in the upcoming General Assembly, lawmakers heard Tuesday.
The state Supreme Court struck down the law this year, saying the Legislature “abdicated its responsibility” by giving the Department of Correction too much enforcement discretion in violation of the separation of powers doctrine.
Deputy Attorney General Dennis Hansen told the Senate Judiciary Committee the 2009 law is being rewritten to address the high court decision. The Legislature convenes Jan. 14.
“The Supreme Court said the Legislature had given the Department of Correction too much discretion in choosing the drug, or drugs, that would be administered as part of lethal injection,” Hansen said, adding the attorney general’s office is working with prison officials “to come up with one that we think will best meet the rulings of both the Arkansas State Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court.”
The Methods of Execution Act, which the Legislature approved in 2009, stated that a death sentence is to be carried out by lethal injection using one or more chemicals “as determined in kind and amount in the discretion of the director of the Department of Correction.”
The law said the chemicals could be one or more ultra short-acting barbiturates; one or more chemical paralytic agents; potassium chloride; and “any other chemical or chemicals, including but not limited to, saline solution.”
In 2011, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox struck down the phrase “any other chemical or chemicals including but not limited to” as unconstitutional. The state Supreme Court in June upheld Fox’s ruling.