Death Penalty Ruled Unconstitutional in Arkansas

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Brent Reinke, Idaho's director of the Department of Correction, says that the Gem State could see another lethal injection of a death row inmate in early 2013, if not sooner. And as Idaho enters a new era of executions—having already seen two two executions in seven months—executions in Arkansas have been declared unconstitutional.

The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled Friday that its state's capital punishment law was unconstitutional because the state's Department of Correction currently sets execution policy. In 2009, the Arkansas Legislature passed a law giving its Department of Correction and its director the authority to choose the chemicals used in lethal injections.

"It is evident to this court that the Legislature has abdicated its responsibility and passed to the executive branch, in this case the [Arkansas Department of Correction], the unfettered discretion to determine all protocol and procedures, most notably the chemicals to be used, for a state execution," wrote Arkansas Justice Jim Gunter in the majority opinion.

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