Arkansas Executions 2017

A federal judge has halted Arkansas' already compromised plan to execute several inmates over an 11-day period starting next week.

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker on Saturday granted a preliminary injunction requested by the inmates to block the executions. Arkansas was set to execute the first inmate by lethal injection on Monday night.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has halted the execution of one of two inmates facing lethal injection Monday under the state's multiple execution plan.

Justices on Friday issued a stay in the execution of Bruce Ward, one of seven inmates the state plans to put to death before the end of the month. Ward's attorneys had asked for the stay after a Jefferson County judge said she didn't have the authority to halt Ward's execution.

  

Monday the state begins executing death row inmates. Seven in all. But today, as Christians everywhere marked the Passion of Jesus, an anti-Death Penalty throng converged on the steps of the Capitol.

 

Little Rock Diocesan Bishop Anthony Taylor reminded the crowd — those who stood in judgment of Jesus were pretty sure he deserved to die. For that matter, Moses too. He’d murdered an Egyptian.

 

"If God could use a murderer to set his people free and lead them to the promised land, then there is hope for everyone."

Arkansas Death Chamber Lethal Injection
Arkansas Department of Correction

Two pharmaceutical companies are asking a federal judge to prevent Arkansas from using its drugs in the planned execution of seven death row inmates later this month.

Fresenius Kabi USA and West-Ward Pharmaceuticals Corp. were granted permission Thursday to file a friend of the court brief in a lawsuit filed by the inmates aimed at halting the executions.

Fresenius Kabi said it appears the potassium chloride Arkansas plans to use in its three-drug protocol was manufactured by the company and may have been acquired improperly.

Governor Asa Hutchinson
Karen Tricot Steward / Arkansas Public Media

Governor Asa Hutchinson spoke to the media for an hour Thursday, saying he has visited with officials at the Arkansas Department of Correction and now has great confidence that the seven executions set for this month will be carried out successfully.

"I reviewed the protocols, procedures and training. But, obviously there's contingency plans. That's why we have communication directly from the chambers there to my office," said Hutchinson.

Seven Arkansas inmates are scheduled to be executed over 11 days this month, starting Monday.

Last week a former Little Rock police officer took the stand in federal court to explain what happened on a night five years ago when he shot and killed a 15 year old. If he convinces 12 jurors he took appropriate action he and the city will not have to come up with millions in punitive and compensatory damages.

The same could never happen if something goes wrong in the planned executions of eight men over 11 days beginning Monday, say defense attorney Jeff Rosenzweig and Terrence Cain, University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen School of Law professor.

“The 11th [amendment to the Constitution] prohibits [lawsuits seeking] damages against states unless Congress specifically abrogates,” says Cain.

“The state has sovereign immunity in something like this,” Rosenzweig says.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is to talk with reporters Thursday morning about the pending executions of seven death row inmates. 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.

Between 1982 and 1999, Jerry Givens executed more than 60 death row inmates for the state of Virginia. He also knows what it is like to be an inmate himself. Now, Givens is publicly against the death penalty and is urging Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson to reconsider a plan to execute seven inmates in 10 days for the sake of the people who will be carrying out the executions.

American Bar Association President Linda Klein
americanbar.org

The American Bar Association, which doesn't take a position on the death penalty, is urging Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson to reconsider the state's plan to execute seven inmates later this month. In a letter that the group says was delivered to the Governor's Office Tuesday, ABA President Linda Klein said the "unprecedented execution schedule undermines due process."

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Governor Hutchinson:

The effects of the sedative midazolam, along with Arkansas's execution practices generally, were the subject of a federal hearing that began in Little Rock Monday that could halt seven planned executions of death row inmates starting next week.  

State Solicitor General Lee Rudofsky told U.S. District Judge Karen Baker that the inmates' case has no basis in law, and that their complaints under the Eighth Amendment have already been dismissed by previous U.S. Supreme Court and 8th Circuit Court of Appeals rulings.

He deflected arguments by the inmates' attorneys that an expedited schedule of double executions over ten days would minimize the inmates' access to effective counsel and increase the risk of error at the Arkansas Department of Correction.

"A risk of maladministration or accident is not cognizable under the 8th Amendment, but more importantly, their allegation is entirely speculative."

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