Death Penalty

Arkansas Set to Execute Eight Inmates in 10 Days

The state's supply of one of the needed drugs is about to expire.

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CACorrections / Wikimedia Commons

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced that eight death row inmates would be executed by lethal injection in a span of 10 days starting April 17, according to a report by CNN. The man are Bruce Earl Ward, Don William Davis, Ledelle Lee, Stacey Eugene Johnson, Jack Harold Jones, Marcel W. Williams, Kenneth D. Williams, and Jason F. Mcgehee. They will mark the first executions for the state, which was caught up in legal challenges, since 2005.

Attorneys for the eight inmates had previously asked a Pulaski County court to rule the state's lethal injection law unconstitutional, in part because it allows the names of the drug suppliers to be kept secret. The court initially ruled in their favor and stayed their executions, according to the Arkansas News, but the Arkansas Supreme Court later overturned that decision in a 4–3 vote.

The state's Attorney General, Leslie Rutledge, recently requested that the high court clarify whether or not a stay on the executions was still in place. In a 5–2 order, the justices confirmed that it was no longer in effect, after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the state court's ruling, per the CNN report. The state is now able to move forward with the executions.

The upcoming execution schedule is unprecedented, notes Robert Dunham, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. "No state has ever conducted eight executions over a 10 day period," he told CNN.

The Associated Press speculates that they were scheduled for such a short window because the state's supply of one of the lethal injection drugs, Midazolam, expires at the end of April. Arkansas has already run out of potassium chloride, which causes cardiac arrest upon injection, and has yet to acquire a new supply. Hutchinson has expressed confidence that a new supplier for the substance will be found in time.

Midazolam, used to render the inmate unconscious before the lethal injections are administered, has been at the center of recent controversy. The drug was used in the botched executions of Dennis McGuire in Ohio and Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma, as documented in a December CNN exposé . In both instances, the inmates were not rendered fully unconscious and their deaths were not quick.

Critics of the Arkansas governor's plan argue that expediting the executions increases the risks that they will be botched as well. "To attempt eight executions with Midazolam—including four multiple executions—is unheard of and reckless," Dunham said to CNN.

Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1977, 1,446 people have been put to death in the U.S. as of January 31, 2017, according to a database compiled by the Death Penalty Information Center.

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25 responses to “Arkansas Set to Execute Eight Inmates in 10 Days

  1. That’s only a B-. Shoot for 10/10.

  2. “No state has ever conducted eight executions over a 10 day period,”

    Janet Reno laughs at 8 measly executions – she’s got ten times the number of confirmed kills at one whack.

  3. the state’s supply of one of the lethal injection drugs, Midazolam, expires at the end of April

    So some low-level flunkie didn’t get the purchase order for a fresh batch out in time and the end result is… the state kills 8 people in 10 days. And we’re supposed to accept granting them this power because…?

    1. The problems is that no one wants to sell them the drugs. Even without the inevitable lawsuits, the PR effects of getting caught selling these drugs to the Department of Corrections can ruin you. There are a lot of machinations the prisons have to go through to get a hold of these drugs legally. Depending on your viewpoint, this is either good news or sad.

      1. And yet there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of doctors willing to perform the executions. Don’t they have a reputation to protect?

        1. Looked this up elsewhere for my other comment: EMTs and phlebotomists tend to be those performing the executions. Not doctors. It violates the hippocratic oath, and the AMA has threatened actions against doctors performing executions (a threat that has never been carrried out, btw).

      2. Why don’t they use all that cocaine and heroin in the evidence locker?

  4. I’ve always found the argument against lethal injection on the basis of which drugs are used to be rather specious. I am opposed to the death penalty, but if you’re going to do it, then a sensible lethal injection is the way to go.

    We can routinely administer anesthesia to medical patients. Midazolam is routinely used for anesthesia. Hell, just apply some chloroform! Enough chloroform and you won’t even need the potassium chloride! We have the Left arguing for medical euthanasia on demand, but if we can do that painlessly, why can’t we do lethal injections painlessly?

    I think the problem here is that states are not using trained anesthetists and physicians to administer lethal injection. And that’s a serious problem. It’s the difference between firing squad by marksmen vs firing squad by kindergartners. You got a couple of yahoos from the Department of Corrections doing this stuff and they’re botching it because they don’t know what they’re doing. It also sounds like their worries over their “supplies” of these drugs means that they’re using stuff long past the expiration date.

    1. You got a couple of yahoos from the Department of Corrections doing this stuff and they’re botching it because they don’t know what they’re doing.

      Really? I thought they had to have doctors do it.

      I’ve always found the argument against lethal injection on the basis of which drugs are used to be rather specious.

      It is, but it’s probably the only thing that works. Kind of like bringing down a mafia boss on “tax evasion” – you go with what works. Arguments like “the state should not have this power” will get laughed out of court.

      1. Doctors have a Hippocratic Oath they must follow, and lethal injections sort of violate that oath. Yes, it’s up to the doctor to uphold their oath or not, but it does detract from the supply. Medical training is necessary to do lethal injection, but that doesn’t mean doctors do it.

        Looking this up…

        Doctors do participate, and no doctor has ever been disciplined for not following their oath in this regard. But it’s not common and it’s not a requirement to be a licensed physician to perform a lethal injection. The practitioners appear to be mostly trained EMTs or phlebotomists. Anesthetists ARE medical doctors however, thus their near absence in lethal injection proceedings.

        1. A doctor only participates to monitor and declare death. The fitting up with IV tubes and starting the feed etc is done by an corrections employee with some kind of medical trainee, usually EMT or similar.

    2. I’ve often thought that with all the hubbub about “botched” executions that a much quicker, more “humane” and more reliable method should be used.

      I too have doubts about the death penalty – especially in those cases that are beyond “reasonable doubt” but not beyond “all doubt”. Too many innocent people have been sentenced.

      But if you’re going to execute someone, use a method that’s so fast and painless, the person executed will never know it happened.

      Loop a length of Det cord around their neck, attach a blasting cap and set it off. Neurons propagate sensation at a speed of at most 300-400 fps. Det cord propagates a shock wave at a rate of about 22,000 feet per second. Within a tenth of a millisecond, the detonation would vaporize the condemned’s shoulders, neck and head. The neural signal would, be immediately overtaken by the shock wave and the brain utterly destroyed before any sensation could even be detected, let alone perceived as pain.

  5. In both instances, the inmates were not rendered fully unconscious and their deaths were not quick.

    How quickly did their victims die?

    How painless were their deaths?

    1. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

      They were sentenced to die, not to suffer the same as their victims did. If some of their victims did die quickly and painlessly (which is fairly likely), would you be arguing the other way?

    2. You’re right. Let’s bring back the wheel.

      Then we can argue about how it’s inhumane, and decide to use the guillotine instead.

      Then, some time will pass, and we will find doing it medicinally to be less unsettling.

      Then, someone will complain that it’s not sufficiently retributive, and…

    3. How painless were the deaths of their victims that got them condemned to death?
      Give them a .45acp injection to the back of the head.

      1. I still think det cord is the way to go.

  6. You can buy an inert gas at the grocery store.

  7. ‘Arkansas has already run out of potassium chloride… and has yet to acquire a new supply’

    Have they tried the local grocery store?

    1. My question as well, since I am not well versed in chemistry; how difficult is it to make potassium chloride? There must be supply houses that sell the basic elements to chemistry labs at high schools and colleges. This seems like something it would be easy to synthesize.

      1. It has to be pharmaceutical grade KCl. If they don’t use pharmaceutical grade KCl, the prisoner might get sick.

  8. Time to return to the Firing Squad.

    1. Kim Jung Un doesn’t get much right – but that execution by anti-aircraft gun seems to work. Never had a condemned person yet complain about the pain – and they all get killed.

  9. Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time…Or don’t want to die.

    1. Cool story, bro.

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