Arkansas has a practice of cutting off witness access to an audio feed in the state’s death chamber after the soon to be executed inmate’s opportunity to give last words. After lethal injection drugs are administered witnesses have to rely only on sight to evaluate an execution. The state is the sole audial observer once the execution begins.
Check out articles by Arkansas Public Media, the Associated Press, and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on this topic and practices in other states, like Texas, that don’t restrict witness access to the sounds of the death chamber.
The lack of information contributed to differing accounts of the first in a double execution last Monday. Media witnesses say they saw Jack Jones moving his lips a few minutes into the execution. An attorney says that was because Jones was gulping for air. The state says otherwise. Assessing those claims is difficult since witnesses were prevented from hearing if any sounds, gulps, or gasps came from Jones’s lips as he was being put to death. Audial observation is the exclusive domain of the state.
Arkansas Department of Correction Spokesman Solomon Graves and Governor Asa Hutchinson’s spokesman J.R. Davis were asked about the issue during a press briefing at Cummins Prison after the execution of Marcel Williams on Monday evening.
Check out the back and forth with Graves and KUAR's Jacob Kauffman: