Ark. Senate Committee Advances New Lethal Injection Law

Feb 6, 2013

A Senate committee is advancing a law that would provide new instructions for how the state administers the death penalty.

Ark. AG Dustin McDaniel told a committee Wednesday that there is enough instruction in a new bill regarding administration of the death penalty to solve problems the state Supreme Court found in the previous law.
Credit Nathan Vandiver / KUAR

The Senate Judiciary committee approved Senate Bill 237 Wednesday that says, more specifically than the previous law, how executions in the state must be carried out.

The state Supreme Court struck down the previous law last year, saying it gave too much power to the Arkansas Department of Correction and that the method of execution should be spelled out by the legislature.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel told reporters Wednesday the court didn’t give any suggestions for improvement to the law, but he thinks the new one will hold up.

“We started from scratch and we’ve tried to address the concerns that were present in the last bill, and we think that we have we have done the right thing in order to satisfy the court’s concerns,” McDaniel said.

Though he thinks it’s a good bill, McDaniel says legal challenges will likely come no matter what the new bill says.

“We have eight inmates on death row whose appeals are exhausted, whose remedies are exhausted and if we have a constitutionally sound method of execution that the courts won’t stop, then yes, I will send a letter to the Governor asking that he sign death warrants,” he said.

No one spoke against the bill. It was sponsored by Republican Senator Bart Hester of Cave Springs and passed the committee unanimously. It now heads to the Senate.  Arkansas currently has 37 inmates on Death Row.

Governor Mike Beebe’s spokesman Matt DeCample confirmed Wednesday afternoon that the Governor supports the bill and will sign it, should it reach his desk.