Capital Punishment Essay

3068 WordsApr 22, 201313 Pages
A. Smith J. Montgomery Criminal Procedure 5 December 2012 Capital Punishment The death penalty was practiced in Arkansas even before the state was admitted to the Union in 1836. According to the Arkansas News, “during the American Revolution several members of the garrison at Arkansas Post were convicted of having plotted on behalf of the English to massacre all the soldiers at the Post. They were executed by a firing squad in New Orleans.” These executions mark the first recorded death sentences for crimes committed in Arkansas. As of 2010, the Arkansas criminal code provides for the death penalty or life without parole upon conviction of capital murder or treason. Those convicted of rape were also subject to the death penalty until January 1, 1976, prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Coker v. Georgia that a death sentence for rape of an adult woman was disproportionate to the crime and violated the Eighth Amendment. The first Arkansas penitentiary was authorized in 1838. Shortly thereafter, the state purchased ninety-two acres for $12 per acre and authorized $80,500 to construct the prison. It began operation in 1841 on the site of the current state capitol, a location that was then west of the Little Rock (Pulaski County) city limits. Convict labor was used to build it. There were relatively few beds because most of the convicts were leased to plantation owners, farmers, manufacturers, mining companies, and others who were responsible for their housing, food, healthcare, and security. The system not only paid for the cost of the penitentiary but also provided a surplus to the state treasury most years. However, over the years, a number of scandals arose over the treatment of convict labor. The most egregious was in 1880 when twenty percent of the convicts died while on contract. The practice finally ended in 1913, when the

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