Arkansas governor backs record executions, saying families need closure

Posted April 14, 2017

When the number of executions was rising in the late 1990s, several states held double and even triple executions on the same day, including Arkansas. If Arkansas carries out these eight executions in April, it would in a week-and-a-half add 30% to its total judicial death toll of the past four decades, and it would be killing almost a quarter of its current death row population.

Lethal injection has been defended as a relatively quick, painless way to kill, but four states-Ohio, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Alabama-have in recent years carried out executions in which midazolam failed to keep inmates unconscious.

Fresenius Kabi said it appeared that it had manufactured the potassium chloride the state plans to use, while West-Ward had previously been identified by The Associated Press as the likely manufacturer of the state's supply of midazolam.

Governor Hutchinson feels the personnel involved is well-prepared, experienced, and trained.

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Arkansas has not executed a prisoner since November 2005 and has not carried out a dual execution since 1999. The governor scheduled the lethal injections over a 10-day period before the state's supply of one of the drugs used in the process expires.

The 60-year-old Arkansas man has displayed signs of mental illness for at least 30 years, according to the Guardian, but that isn't stopping Arkansas executioners who are scheduled to administer to Ward a lethal injection in less than four days, the first in a swift series of seven "conveyor belt" executions that's put a spotlight on the southern state and US capital punishment as a whole.

Inmates Bruce Ward (top row L to R), Don Davis, Ledell Lee, Stacy Johnson, Jack Jones (bottom row L to R), Marcel Williams, Kenneth Williams and Jason Mcgehee are shown in these booking photo provided March 21, 2017.

"The only conclusion is that these medicines were acquired from an unauthorized seller in violation of important contractual terms that the manufacturers relied on", the companies stated in the court filing. "Pharmaceuticals obtained in this manner are at risk of adulteration or chemical change due to improper handling such as failure to maintain proper temperature levels during storage and transport".

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The lawyers also noted that the European Union had strict regulations for products that can be used for capital punishment, meaning that Arkansas' actions could convince officials to reduce the supply of medicines for fear of indirectly abetting executions. The inmates are challenging the compressed execution timetable, as well as the use of midazolam. In a statement on its website, Pfizer said a distributor had sold the drug to Arkansas without the company's knowledge.

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Jodi Raines Dennis rejected the request Thursday to halt the execution of Bruce Ward, saying she doesn't have the authority to issue a stay.

"From my standpoint, I have two convictions: One, that I think the death penalty is an appropriate punishment in the most serious and heinous crimes in our society", he said.

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