GOP Atty. General Candidates Debate Death Penalty Tactics

LITTLE ROCK, AR -- Just a few weeks away from the May primary election, the three Republicans aiming to become their party's nominee for attorney general debated their merits to a UALR crowd.

The Advance Arkansas Institute sponsored the debate between David Sterling, Leslie Rutledge, and Patricia Nation. The candidates debated a variety of issues, including the death penalty, which continues to be a major issue for the attorney general's office.

Right now, the manufacturers of lethal injection drugs have barred their sale from any state that uses them to put prisoners to death. Without lethal injection, the default execution in Arkansas is the electric chair. Sterling is the only candidate who says he supports the use of the electric chair.

"I'm going to carry out the law that Arkansas has on the books, which the electric chair is a means available," Sterling said.

Rutledge strongly disagreed with Sterling's view on the electric chair.

"The electric chair is in a museum and that's where it belongs," Rutledge said, "We can't just pull it out and plug it in and start using it."

Nation says the ruling that keeps Arkansas from acquiring the drugs for lethal injections needs to be dealt with.

"I understand that the drug protocol that we've used is no longer available and that is the problem, one of the problems that the legislature is facing," Nation said.

There have been no executions in Arkansas since 2005. Current Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has called the state's current system "completely broken" and said the electric chair is "too barbaric for a civilized society."

The primary election is May 20th. The only Democrat running is State Representative Nate Steel.

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