Senate Advances Arkansas's New Lethal Injection Bill

Feb 6, 2013

New legislation on how the state must execute its death row inmates is on its way to a House committee after passing the Senate 33-0 Thursday.

Governor Mike Beebe told reporters Thursday that he'll sign a new lethal injection law if it reaches his desk.
Credit Nathan Vandiver / KUAR

The bill calls for a specific type of drug – a barbiturate – to be used, though is doesn’t specify the exact drug. Senator Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, sponsored the bill. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel gave it his support in a Senate committee Wednesday.

Hester says it’s a response to a state Supreme Court ruling.

“Last year the [state] Supreme Court said that the Legislature did not give clear enough explanation in the law on how to administer lethal injection, and this is clarifying that,” Hester told fellow Senators before the bill was put to a vote.

The Governor has also given his support to the new execution method.

“It doesn’t change my own personal angst about ever having to sign those things [death warrants], which I still possess, but it is the law,” Beebe told reporters.

The Governor has said recently that he would sign a bill abolishing the death penalty altogether, though no such bill has been proposed.

Arkansas currently has 37 inmates on death row; eight of those have exhausted all appeals.