Arkansas Obtains Drug To Begin Ten-Day, Eight-Man Execution Run

Mar 13, 2017

File photo: Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaking to reporters at the Capitol.
Credit Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The state of Arkansas has secured a new supply of a lethal injection drug and is set to begin executing eight inmates in a 10-day period next month.

Difficulty stocking the three drugs used in lethal injections has thwarted the state’s efforts to kill inmates in the past, along with routine court challenges. But after a U.S. Supreme Court decision last month not to review Arkansas’s execution procedure the state is poised to resume executions after an 11-year lull.

The state Department of Correction confirms potassium chloride stock that expired in January has been replenished. But, another drug in the three-drug cocktail is set to expire at the end of April. Speaking to KUAR at the Capitol, Governor Asa Hutchinson said those circumstances help explain his 10-day time period for executing the eight inmates.

“Ours is brought together in a short time frame because of unusual circumstances. That just falls in my lap as someone having to set the dates and do it in the right timeframe and that’s how it worked in this case,” he said.

Hutchinson said the total number of inmates that could be executed is generally in line with the number of people executed in other states during the gap since Arkansas last put an inmate to death in 2005. Only Texas, in two spans in 1977, has executed so many people at such a fast pace.

The Republican governor said it’s the “most serious and onerous responsibility that he or any governor has to carry out.” But he said it’s a role he’s mentally prepared to fill.

“The challenge that I have to carry out my responsibility is minimal compared to the emotional struggle and trauma that the victims’ families have endured,” said Hutchinson. “You put it in perspective, this is simply a responsibility that I have.”

State Rep. Vivian Flowers (D-Pine Bluff).
Credit Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

On the other side of the spectrum, Democrat Vivian Flowers of Pine Bluff is leading a long shot effort in the legislature to abolish the death penalty.

“As a human being, as an American and as a Christian, life is something that God gives us,” said Flowers.

“I don’t believe that the state nor any man has the right to take away my life.”

The state has scheduled four sets of double executions in April before the drug midazolam expires.