Arkansas Panel OKs Eliminating Death Sentence As Penalty

Feb 25, 2015

A proposal to abolish Arkansas' death penalty is heading to the state Senate.

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved legislation that would eliminate the death penalty as a sentencing option in capital murder cases.

Arkansas has 32 inmates on death row but hasn't executed anyone in nearly a decade due to legal challenges over the state's lethal injection procedures.

State Sen. David Burnett, a former judge and prosecutor, said he no longer believes the death penalty is a deterrent to violent crime. The bill by the Osceola Democrat faces opposition from some prosecutors who say the death penalty helps while negotiating plea bargains with defendants.

The state hasn't executed anyone since 2005, when Eric Nance was put to death for the murder and attempted rape of a Malvern teenager.