Former Governor Beebe speaks out on Arkansas' scheduled executions

Former Governor Beebe speaks about upcoming executions

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Governor Asa Hutchinson first started the execution process last year.

Through this whole lead up to what may come in these next two weeks, THV11’s Craig O’Neill has been interested in former Governor Beebe's take on what we've seen.  All the inmates were on death row when he was Governor. He agreed to sit down with Craig and talk about it.

Craig’s first question to him was simply, how did we get here? Why is it happening this way? But before he would answer there was something he wanted to get off his chest.

“When you are the person that has to say this person lives or this person dies, you're the last stroke of the pen that determines life. It is a daunting and oppressive and awful absolutely awful responsibility. So any governor that has to go through that I'm sure feels the same way,” said Former Governor Beebe. “How did we get here. A combination of things. Even though I set eight death warrants or execution dates, all were stayed by the courts for various reasons. We'd been following that since about 2005. In all eight of those cases where I had to set a death warrant, to satisfy myself, I read the entire transcript of every trial of those eight. And in all eight I came away more convinced than ever of number one the fairness of the trial based upon the paper and upon the guilt of the inmate based upon the total transcripts. But it didn't lighten the burden any.”

And because Governor Beebe was so familiar with these cases, Craig wondered if he'd been consulted or consulted with Governor Hutchinson.

“I'm not going to talk about whether he and I have talked about that. Any conversations he and I may have had about any of this would be private as I'm sure you would understand. I hope the people would understand that and I would honor any confidentiality in that regard,” Beebe said. “Knowing Asa Hutchinson and knowing how virtually every governor I have ever known, and certainly from my own experience, knowing how they would feel, it's got to be a very tough time. A very emotionally draining tough time for a governor. When you compress it as this is compressed, I can't imagine how difficult that would be.”

There is the legal side of it where you can review depositions that were taken in a courtroom, but there's also the drug side of this. There are reports about botched executions where you have one who is writhing in pain for two hours in Arizona. Craig wondered how much of that played into Beebe’s thought process.

“That was less of a factor than what bothered me than the basic idea of I'm really telling a person they can no longer live,” Beebe said.

Beebe has traveled representing Arkansas trying to bring industries here. Craig asked if he thought the executions would have an effect on that aspect of Arkansas.

“Well it depends you know, what we've seen recently is a lot of political actions on the part of states have had an effect on economic development. Publicity, particularly publicity which some people take as negative, can have an effect. Who knows whether or not that will be the case here,” Beebe said. “Arkansas has gone through a lot of things that were negative over the years. The only state that ever went bankrupt during the great depression which impacted us for years, for generations. But you overcome it. Overcome it with hard work and some success stories.”

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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