Capital punishment in Arkansas
Capital punishment is legal in the U.S. state of Arkansas. Since 1820, a total of 504 individuals have been executed. According to the Arkansas Department of Correction, as of August 05, 2015, a total of 34 men were under a sentence of death in the state. On June 22, 2012, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled the current execution law unconstitutional because it let the executive branch decide on some execution issues that the legislature should have.
- History 1
- Method 2
- Death row 3
- Capital offenses 4
- List of individuals executed since Furman 5
- See also 6
- References 7
- Notes 8
- External links 9
On 25 July 1902 seven men were hanged, the most executions in one day in the state.
Almost all executions were for crimes that involved murder. A number of people were also executed for rape and there was one execution for espionage, 17-year-old alleged Confederate spy David O. Dodd, hanged by Union soldiers on 8 January 1864.
In 1913 the method used was changed to the electric chair. The electric chair was constructed from the wood that had previously made up the state gallows. This electric chair would be used for all electrocutions up until 1964. Four more people were hanged in the state — one in 1913, two in 1914 and one in 1930.
The last execution in the state before
John Edward Swindler
Police officer Randy Basnett
Ronald Gene Simmons
Rebecca Simmons, Gene Simmons, Barbara Simmons, Loretta Simmons, Eddy Simmons, Marianne Simmons, Becky Simmons, Renata Simmons, Billy Simmons, Trae Simmons, Sheila McNulty, Dennis McNulty, Michael McNulty, Sylvia Simmons, Kathy Kendrick, and James D. Chaffin.
Ricky Ray Rector
Police officer Robert Martin
Steven Douglas Hill
Police officer Robert Klein
Edward Charles Pickens
Jim Guy Tucker
Jonas Hoten Whitmore
Essie Mae Black
Hoyt Franklin Clines
Darryl V. Richley
James William Holmes
Richard Wayne Snell
Barry Lee Fairchild
William Frank Parker
James Warren and Sandra Warren
Marvin Richie and Opal James
Earl Van Denton
Kirt Douglas Wainwright
Eugene Wallace Perry
Kenneth Staton and Suzanne Staton-Ware
Wilburn A. Henderson
Willa Dean O'Neal
Johnie Michael Cox
Marie Sullens, Margaret Brown, and Billy Brown
Marion Albert Pruett
Bobbie Jean Robertson
Mark Edward Gardner
Joe Joyce, Martha Joyce, and Sara McCurdy
Eric Willett and Roger Willett
Christina Marie Riggs
Justin Riggs and Shelby Alexis Riggs
David Dewayne Johnson
Clay King Smith
Misty Erwin, Shelley Sorg, Sean Sorg, Taylor Sorg, and Samantha Rhodes
Riley Dobi Noel
Marcell Young, Malak Hussian, and Mustafa Hussian
Charles Laverne Singleton
Mary Lou York
Eric Randall Nance
All of the following individuals have been executed for murder since the Furman decision. All but John Swindler were executed by lethal injection. Swindler's execution was on the electric chair.
List of individuals executed since Furman
- murder while committing or attempting to commit arson, terrorism, rape, kidnapping, carjacking, robbery, burglary, a felony violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, involving an actual delivery of a controlled substance, or first degree escape
- premeditated murder of an on-duty law enforcement officer, jailer, prison official, firefighter, judge or other court official, probation officer, parole officer, any military personnel, or teacher or school employee
- premeditated murder
- premeditated murder of any holder of any public office or candidate for public office
- premeditated murder while in prison
- contract killing
- murder of a person under the age of 15
- Death resulting from discharging a firearm at a vehicle, conveyance, or a residential or commercial occupiable structure that is knowingly occupied
- Treason (defined solely as levying war against the state or adhering to its enemies, giving them aid and comfort)
In 1974 male death row inmates, previously at the Tucker Unit, were moved to the Cummins Unit. In 1986 male death row inmates were moved to the Maximum Security Unit. On Friday August 22, 2003, all 39 Arkansas death row inmates, all of them male, were moved to the Supermax at the Varner Unit.
Death row inmates are located at the Arkansas Department of Correction Varner Unit's Supermax, while the executions are performed at the Cummins Unit, adjacent to Varner. The female death row is located at the McPherson Unit. In 1999 the female death row was newly inaugurated.
As in any other state, people who are under 18 at the time of commission of the capital crime  or intellectual disabled are constitutionally precluded from being executed.
Executions in Arkansas are currently performed at the Cummins Unit.
If the person was sentenced before that date, they have the choice of the electric chair or lethal injection. However, since no inmates are eligible for that method, the electric chair has all but been retired for use in volunteers to be used.
- "The punishment of death is to be administered by a continuous intravenous injection of a lethal quantity of an ultra-short-acting barbiturate in combination with a chemical paralytic agent…"
For all people sentenced after 4 July 1983, the method used is the lethal injection. Under state law:
According to Michael L. Radelet of the University of Colorado there have been two instances of executions that did not go to plan in Arkansas since Furman. On 24 January 1992 the execution of Ricky Ray Rector was delayed by 50 minutes after the medical staff were unable to find a suitable vein in his arm. The curtain over the witness area was not drawn, and witnesses heard Rector moan loudly eight times. State officials attributed the difficulties to his size and use of antipsychotic medication. The execution of Christina Marie Riggs faced similar delays on May 2, 2000, when staff were unable to locate a vein in her elbow. They eventually found one in her wrist.
was electrocuted. His was the first and only execution so far on the new electric chair constructed by the state in the 1970s. John Swindler on 24 January 1964 for rape. New capital punishment laws were passed in Arkansas and came into force on 23 March 1973. The first execution would not come until 18 June 1990 when Charles Fields was that of