A Democratic state senator has filed a bill to raise the minimum age for sentencing an individual to death.
Sen. Greg Leding (D-Fayetteville) filed the bill, which would raise the age that a defendant can be sentenced to death or life imprisonment without the possibility for parole. Currently, the minimum age for a defendant is 18, but the new bill would increase the age to 21.
This sentencing minimum would apply when the offense or crime was committed. According to the bill, if a defendant was under 21 years of age at the time of the offense, they cannot be sentenced to death or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
This bill, Senate Bill 591, would amend Arkansas Code 5-4-108. Leding filed the bill on Monday, March 22, and it has been read twice by the Arkansas Senate and referred to the Senate’s Judiciary Committee.
According to the Arkansas Department of Corrections, there are currently 30 individuals on death row in the state. Of this total, 15 are white males, 14 are Black males, and one is a Hispanic male. One inmate has been on death row since October 1990, while the most recent was sentenced in August 2018.