by Max Brantley
Sen. Joyce Elliott wants a study of possible inequities in the judicial system, particularly in death penalty cases. Will Gov. Beebe go along with an independent assessment? The article leaves open the door to the possibility, though he quashed a similar idea two years ago.
It's a worthy idea. It would also be surprising if the study didn't further demonstrate what similar studies have typically demonstrated -- being poor and a minority makes a defendant disproportionately likely to face a death sentence.
The article mentions, by the way, the proposed legislation to clean up Arkansas execution procedures to make them constitutionally defensible. The bill also puts nearly every element of the state's taking of a life outside the reach of the Freedom of Information Act. If there was ever a state duty that shouldn't be conducted in the shadows, this is it.