ACLU of Arkansas Applauds Ban On Execution of Minors; Pro-Death Penalty Governor Supports Bill

Affiliate: ACLU of Arkansas
March 27, 2001 12:00 am

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ACLU of Arkansas
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LITTLE ROCK–The ACLU of Arkansas today commended a House Judiciary Committee vote to pass bipartisan legislation that prohibits the execution of any person who was under 17 years of age at the time he or she committed a capital crime.

“”The House Judiciary Committee made a progressive and courageous decision today, and we applaud them for it,” said Rita Sklar, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arkansas. “A number of states, the federal government, and the great majority of countries ban the execution of minors. I am extremely proud to see the Arkansas Legislature take a first step in that direction.””

Democrat Representative Sam Ledbetter and Republican Representative Mark Alan Smith, who introduced House Bill 2253, were supported in their efforts by Gov. Mike Huckabee, who attended the committee meeting and testified in favor of the proposed bill.

In his testimony, Gov. Huckabee, who is a supporter of the death penalty, said that he thought it was wrong to support executions with “gusto” and “bravado.” The Governor stated that he “would never sign” a document approving the execution of a minor.

The Governor further said that it was “inconceivable” and “inconsistent” to hold minors to adult standards when minors are treated differently than adults in dozens of other ways. Among those listed by the Governor were an inability to purchase alcohol, buy tobacco products, or join the military.

“It is not often that the ACLU of Arkansas and Governor Huckabee are on the same side of an issue, but I stand proudly with him today,” said Sklar. “This is an issue that can be supported by people all across the political spectrum. Banning the execution of minors is an issue of basic decency, and I commend the Governor for speaking out on the issue.”

Sklar concluded by saying, “I hope we can count on the Governor’s continued support for the bill as it moves through the Legislature.”

The bill now moves to a full vote of the Arkansas House of Representatives.

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