Arkansas Executions 2017

/eeas.europa.eu

Governor Asa Hutchinson, who has made pushing international trade a hallmark of his first term, received a letter from the European Union Ambassador to the U.S. calling for the state to stop executions. The letter was published Wednesday afternoon by the EU. The governor's office has not said whether it plans to reply.

adc.arkansas.gov

The execution of death row inmate Kenneth Williams is only hours away, scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight. Attorneys for Williams have started to court action.

The filing in Pulaski County Circuit Court asserts medical conditions, including: sickle cell, lupus, and organic brain damage could cause complications and lead to severe pain and suffering.

From NPR's 1A program aired Wednesday:

Arkansas is racing to execute death row inmates before its supply of lethal drugs expires. The nationwide drug shortage has effectively put the U.S. death penalty on life support and sent many states in search of workarounds to complete executions. How much longer can the death penalty survive? Has the time come for the country to come to a consensus on capital punishment?

adc.arkansas.gov

The Arkansas Supreme Court has rejected an inmate's requests to block his execution, scheduled for Thursday night.

The state's high court rejected the requests Wednesday for Kenneth Williams.

Williams had asked for a stay of execution over claims about what evidence jurors considered when he was sentenced to death.

An Arkansas judge who blocked the state's executions the same day he participated in an anti-death penalty demonstration is asking two state panels to investigate the attorney general's office and the state Supreme Court for his removal from considering any capital punishment cases.

Solomon Graves Department of Correction
Bobby Ampezzan / Arkansas Public Media

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.

Arkansas executed two men in one night this week, and there is a dispute about how it went. Attorneys for the first man executed Monday, Jack Jones, say he gasped for air as he died. Media witnesses say they simply saw Jones’ lips moving. None of the execution witnesses were allowed to hear Jones’ sounds.

Andrew DeMillo, an Associated Press reporter who witnessed Jones’ execution, reported back to other journalists at the prison that Jones’ lips had moved during the lethal injection process.

Arkansas Death Chamber Lethal Injection
Arkansas Department of Correction

The nation's first double execution in 16 years is raising a new issue involving transparency and the death penalty: Should witnesses be allowed to hear what goes on in the death chamber?

A lawyer who watched Monday's executions in Arkansas says he saw an inmate open his mouth several times when it should have been still. That prompted another lawyer to claim in a court filing that Jack Jones was gulping for air after receiving a sedative, the first component of a lethal injection.

Other witnesses did not see it that way. An open microphone could have settled the question.

10:39 Update:

An ADC spokesman says Marcel Williams was pronounced dead at 10:33 p.m. The procedure began at 10:16. 

A spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Correction declared that Jack Jones was executed Monday night by lethal injection. His execution began at 7:06 p.m. and he was declared dead at 7:20 p.m.

"He was covered in a sheet with his arms extended," said media witness, Andrew DeMillo, from the Associated Press. DeMillo noted Jones' lips continued moving for several minutes after the execution began though witnesses were not able to hear sound from the execution chamber.

Jack Jones
Arkansas Department of Correction

Arkansas has executed inmate Jack Jones by lethal injection, the first of what would be the only double-execution in the U.S. since 2000.

Jones was pronounced dead at 7:20 p.m. Monday at the state's Cummins Unit in southeast Arkansas. Barring any last-minute stays, inmate Marcel Williams will be executed later Monday.

Jones was sent to death row for the 1995 rape and killing of Mary Phillips. He was also convicted of attempting to kill Phillips' 11-year-old daughter and was convicted in another rape and killing in Florida.

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