Local Lawmakers Address Hurdles To Arkansas’ Death Penalty

After a botched execution in Oklahoma City, lawmakers are taking a second look the death penalty system in Arkansas.

Sen. Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs) said one of the biggest issues in the system is getting the proper drugs needed for lethal injection.

He said once the supplier knows what the drugs are being used for, they pull them off the shelf. The drugs come from European suppliers, many of whom are fundamentally against the death penalty, Hester said. Without securing a drug company, the state has no way to obtain the necessary drugs.

As of now, the death penalty in Arkansas is constitutional. Hester said if the lethal drug issue is not decided in court, officials may have to resort back to using other methods.

“I don’t know that anyone wants to go down that road, but the electric chair is still working. If we can’t get lethal injection worked out to the Supreme Court’s satisfaction, that may be a route we are forced to look at,” Hester said.

Rep. Greg Leding (D-Fayetteville) said currently the state sentences people to death row, but it has no way to carry out the executions.

“There are a number of legal hurdles that we’re looking at, and logistical hurdles in terms of getting these drugs necessary to carry out the executions,” Leding said.

Leding said in light of the botched execution in Oklahoma on Tuesday, the state wants to make sure they don’t fumble in their duty to carry out the sentence.

Despite there not being an execution in Arkansas since 2005, locals expressed mixed opinions on the issue of capital punishment.

Richard Leak has lived in Arkansas for over 40 years and said the laws across the nation need to be more strict.

“They sit around for years before anything happens, and I don’t think the taxpayers need to be paying for a roof over their head and three square meals, when there’s people living on the streets that haven’t committed any crimes at all,” Leak said.

Others think that there should be more reformative programs in the jail system.

“I don’t think it’s a humane way to deal with criminals. I believe there should be meditation and counseling programs in prison,” Brooke Boatright said.

There are 32 inmates currently on death row in Arkansas.

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