Yesterday a bill to repeal Arkansas’ death penalty, sponsored by Senator David Burnett, passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee by a voice vote with no audible “nays.” The Arkansas Senate Judiciary Committee is composed of four Democrats and four Republicans.
Burnett himself prosecuted five death cases and served as a judge on five more. One of those was the West Memphis Three case, in which Damien Echols was sentenced to death. Echols and two co-defendants eventually were released from prison after strong evidence of their innocence came to light. Burnett said the death penalty doesn’t do anything to prevent murder or capital crime. “I think the time has come for us to reconsider the death penalty as a form of punishment.” Burnett’s bill, SB 298, would make sentencing options for a capital crime life in prison or life in prison without parole.
Though it is unlikely that a repeal bill will pass through the Arkansas legislature, this news is encouraging for us in Tennessee and provides further evidence that leaders on both sides of the aisle are increasingly willing to express their concerns about taxpayer dollars propping up a failing system.
Here in Tennessee, Tennessee Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty (TCCATDP) is making its debut at Justice Day on the Hill on March 4, bringing more Tennessee conservatives to the table to talk about this broken policy. If you would like to be a part of Justice Day on the Hill, register here and join us as we lay the groundwork for Tennessee to become the next Southern state to get a repeal bill through committee.
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