Few Options Left on Arkansas Death Penalty (AP Analysis)

by Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press  on Monday, Jul. 22, 2013 7:20 am  

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel

"That is problematic that we can't find a way to do it right something we consider an appropriate punishment," Elliott said.

Other lawmakers, however, say they're not sure the situation is as dire as laid out by McDaniel. Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Arkansas should see how other states have been able to carry out executions without facing the same questions about the drugs used.

Hutchinson said he planned to talk about the issue with prison officials when they appear before his committee next week.

"I don't believe it's as bleak a picture as he painted," Hutchinson, R-Benton, said.

Hutchinson said he supports the death penalty, noting that having that as a sentencing option can help prosecutors in trying to negotiate plea deals.

Rep. Marshall Wright, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, said he agrees with McDaniel's assessment of the system and said one possibility for lawmakers in 2015 may be to consider a temporary step such as a moratorium on sentencing anyone else to death. Wright said he supports the death penalty, but said he's looking at whether such a temporary pause may be needed to address the challenges in carrying out executions.

"Right now, it's a little disingenuous to have it as a possibility right now. We have no way to carry it out," said Wright, D-Forrest City. "Whether or not you're in favor or not in favor of the death penalty in Arkansas, there's no way to enact it right now."

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