An important bipartisan federal criminal justice reform legislation, called the First Step Act (S.3649) currently awaits a vote in the U.S.
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.
For more information and ways to get involved, contact your state's organizations:
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 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.