The state of Arkansas has been executing people since 1820. The Arkansas criminal code today provides the death penalty or life without parole upon conviction of capital murder or treason. The law provides that capital murder charges are to be tried in Circuit Court with mandatory review by the Arkansas Supreme Court. The jury must vote unanimously to impose the death penalty, otherwise the trial judge must impose life without parole. After the 1972 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that capital punishment was unconstitutional (Furman v. Georgia), the death penalty was reenacted in Arkansas in 1973. In 1983, the General Assembly adopted lethal injection as the method of execution.
In 1993, the criminal code was amended to create a mitigating circumstance for mental retardation in capital murder cases. The death penalty continues to draw support from both political parties and a majority of the citizens of Arkansas. However, that support has declined over the last decade as questions about fairness without regard to race or ethnicity and the fear of executing an innocent person.
Starting April 16, 2017, unprecedented four sets of double executions will be carried out over an 11-day period.