“Todos los cristianos y hombres de buena voluntad están llamadas hoy a trabajar no sólo por la abolición de la pena de muerte, sino también para mejorar las condiciones de las cárceles, en el respeto de la dignidad humana de las personas privadas de libertad.” - Papa Francisco
Arkansas' first recorded execution took place in 1820. In 1913, the state exchanged hanging for electrocution as its primary means of execution. When the Supreme Court case Gregg v. Georgia (1976) reinstated capital punishment, the state did not resume executions until 1990. It was at this time that electrocution was abandoned in favor of lethal injection. Since 1976, 31 executions have taken place in Arkansas.
In 2011, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration seized Arkansas' supply of an execution drug amid a nationwide shortage. The state then passed legislature revising its execution protocol and implementing a "shield" on its drug suppliers in 2013. The secrecy and protocol laws were upheld in 2015 and 2016, respectively. The U.S. Supreme Court denied to review the appeals of death-row inmates on this legislation.
While waiting for this legislation to be upheld, Governor Asa Hutchinson set execution dates for eight men on death row. These executions were scheduled in an unprecedented format of four, double-executions over an 11 day period in April 2017. Four of those executions were carried out while the other half were stayed.
For more information and ways to get involved, contact your state's organizations:
Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
The Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty brings together civil and religious organizations in Arkansas to oppose the death penalty and work together to get it replaced with a sentence of life without parole.
Catholic Charities of Arkansas
Catholic Charities of Arkansas oversees the legislative efforts in Arkansas regarding social issues. The various offices, including prison ministries, assure that spiritual support is provided by trained volunteers on a regular basis. The mission of Catholic Charities of Arkansas is rooted in the challenge of the Gospel: to serve with dignity and respect persons who are poor or marginalized; to advocate on behalf of the most vulnerable; and to actively promote charity, justice and the sanctity of life in the Church and in the community.