The Arkansas Death Penalty Moratorium Campaign Committee has announced its expected petition drive to urge the governor and legislature to study the death penalty.
The committee wants the governor to appoint a commission to study such questions as:
1. Is the death penalty administered fairly throughout the state?
2. Is the death penalty administered without regard to race, ethnicity or socio-economic status?
3. What are the possibilities of executing an innocent person?
4. What is the real cost to administer the death penalty in Arkansas?
5.What effect does the death penalty have on the families of murder victims?
6. What effect does the death penalty have on those Department of Correction personnel required to administer it?
7. Does the death penalty deter murder in the state?
8. Does the existence of the death penalty enable prosecutors to deal more effectively with those who commit violent crimes?
The expectation, of course, is that fair and factual answers to those questions might lend impetus to abolition of the death penalty. That's a long shot in Arkansas, of course, and perhaps nationally. Note articles about yesterday's arguments before the Supreme Court about extending the death penalty to crimes other than murder. Chief Justice John Roberts and others from that wing of the court seem amenable. The usual legislative yahoos can be expected to respond enthusiastically to the encouragement.