Our View

Our View

Death penalty delays lower effectiveness of capital punishment as a deterrent

We all know Arkansas has the death penalty and Gov. Asa Hutchinson just last year scheduled nine executions, five of which were halted by the courts, which certainly isn’t unusual.

Now, with that said, we all know the death penalty is highly controversial which makes for those involved in this end of human life process highly sensitive and susceptible to deliberate and malicious contamination by radical anti-death penalty activists.

Unlike the so-called good ole’ days of the Old West when there were the likes of judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas Isaac Parker, better known as the “Hanging Judge”, we have a “kinder and gentler” way of ridding our society of these people.

In 21 years on the federal bench, Judge Parker tried 13,490 cases. In more than 8,500 of these cases, the defendant either pleaded guilty or was convicted at trial. Parker sentenced 160 people to death; 79 of them were executed.

Parker was nominated by President Ulysses S. Grant for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas in 1874 and in May 1875 he tried 18 men during his very first session of court, all of whom were charged with murder.

The death penalty was common then and there is even a present day image of the reconstructed gallows now located at the Fort Smith National Historic Site, which today is viewed by many as a cruel and inhumane way of dealing with murderers and violent criminals.

Today though we have members of the Arkansas Board of Corrections in a quandary as to the legality of masking the identities of makers of the state’s lethal-injection drugs.

You see, drug manufacturers have been insistent that their identity not be known when selling the lethal drugs to Arkansas for fear of repercussions that may threaten their reputation as well as their financial bottom-line.

Heck, back in Judge Parker’s day public hangings were a big event where town’s people would bring their children and family to watch the condemned hang.

Now we have prison officials withdrawing their staffimposed legislation that would help mask the identities of the drug makers for fear it would be unconstitutional and is now seeking an opinion from Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.

The state’s prison system has long sought to keep the sources of its execution drugs secret as a way of maintain a steady supply.

The issue seems moot to us in light of the fact that the Arkansas Supreme Court said just last year as well as a follow-up ruling in March, that such attempts at secrecy violated the law. Furthermore, if these drug dealers are so worried about their precious reputation then why and the heck doesn’t this prison board make recommendations to lawmakers about other methods of carrying out the death penalty.

Arkansas isn’t the only state having difficulty in dealing with these drug companies that have gone so far as to file lawsuits to keep their identity secret, which to us only makes for common sense to either come up with an alternative method or simply bend to the pressures of these anti-death penalty activists and end the practice altogether.

This sure isn’t the way dealing with convicted murderers and violent criminals was handled back in the day, and maybe one main reason why we are unable to deal today with violent crimes and gun violence that is plaguing our cities, towns and communities.