Death penalty could be abolished or changed in Arkansas

Death penalty could be abolished or changed in Arkansas
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JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The death penalty in Arkansas is getting a lot of talk in this year's legislative session. In 2013, then Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said the state's death-penalty system is 'completely broken'.

He called for abolishing or changing the system and now, there's a chance one of those might happen.

According to the Arkansas Department of Correction, there are 31 men on death row in Arkansas right now. Four of them are from Region 8 counties.

It's been a decade since a death-row inmate was executed by lethal injection in the state of Arkansas but what happens on Capitol Hill this session could determine if or how they are put to death.

Senator David Burnett of Osceola has filed a bill that would abolish the death penalty in Arkansas.

That bill, SB298, has been approved by a senate committee.

Region 8 residents we spoke with had varying opinions on the possibility of abolishing the death penalty in the state.

"I think maybe life behind bars without parole is the best," Patti Wallace said.

"I've not really thought about it in depth but I've got to say putting someone to death seems wrong," Sam Bell told Region 8 News.

"Not necessarily abolish it but just have that reasonable doubt removed before you enact it," Robert Redd said.

One legislator not only wants to keep the death penalty, she also hopes to add "firing squad" to the possible methods of execution in the state.

State Representative Rebecca Petty says she plans on filing the bill. It would make Arkansas the fifth state to ever legally allow firing squads as an alternate method of execution for lethal injection.

Though opinions varied on the future of the death penalty, many we spoke with felt a firing squad shouldn't be an option for death row inmates.

"That's a bit intense, a bit extreme," Bell said.

"It'd be just like taking someone out and and hanging them like they did in the old days," Wallace said.

"There are more humane ways of killing somebody if that's the route that you need to go," Redd said.

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