KTHV-TV posts the AP report, "Ark. legislative panel to discuss death penalty."
An Arkansas Senate panel will hear from supporters and opponents of the death penalty as lawmakers try to come up with a new lethal injection law to replace the one struck down by the state's highest court.
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday planned to hold a hearing on the death penalty before it considered a proposal to rewrite the lethal injection law. Opponents and supporters of the death penalty were each expected to have up to an hour to discuss the issue with the panel.
The Arkansas Supreme Court last year threw out the state's 2009 lethal injection law, siding with a group of death row inmates who said it violated part of the state's constitution that deals with separating the branches of government.
There are more details in the Arkansas News Bureau report, "Lawmakers to consider death penalty bills." It's written by Rob Moritz.
Lawmakers this week will take up legislation to rewrite the state’s stricken death penalty law as opponents of capital punishment draw new encouragement from Gov. Mike Beebe’s comment that he would sign a ban on executions if such a bill reached his desk.
No such measure has been filed or has even been considered, legislative leaders say.
What a legislative panel will consider is a response to a state Supreme Court ruling last year that struck down the state’s lethal injection law.
Executions in Arkansas have been on hold since the state’s highest court ruled that the Legislature “abdicated its responsibility” by giving the Department of Correction too much enforcement discretion in violation of the separation of powers doctrine.
The Methods of Execution Act of 2009 states 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 says 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.”
An attorney for one of the prisoners who challenged the law argued last year that the law theoretically would allow any substance, even rat poison, to be used to execute prisoners.
Senate Bill 73, by Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave City, would set forth specific procedures and chemicals for the prison department to use in carrying out executions.
But death penalty opponents say instead of devising ways to improve the procedure and increase the visibility of putting someone to death, the state should consider less costly alternatives.
“We know the death penalty costs more than life without parole,” said Sam Kooistra, executive director of the Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.
Earlier coverage from Arkansas begins at the link.