Arkansas Prisons

The Arkansas Parole Board has notified the attorneys for four Arkansas death row inmates that approaching deadlines to apply for executive clemency have been suspended.

Board spokesman Solomon Graves confirmed in an email Monday that the deadlines are suspended for the four inmates, who had been scheduled for execution on Dec. 14 and Jan. 14. Graves says the decision was made because of a temporary restraining order placed on those executions by the Arkansas Supreme Court last month.

Prairie County Clerk Arrested For Giving Inmate Cell Phone

Oct 28, 2015
Prairie County Circuit Clerk Vanessa Peters
Prairie County Sheriff's Office

The Prairie County Circuit Clerk  is facing charges for allegedly giving an Arkansas Department of Correction inmate a cell phone.

Vanessa Peters, 53, was arrested last week, charged with furnishing, possessing or using prohibited articles. Prairie County District Judge Jim Rhodes released Peters on her own recognizance on October 21, the same day she was arrested.

An assistant attorney general says the company that sold Arkansas execution drugs had contracts with manufacturers prohibiting the chemicals from being sold for use in death penalty cases, but made a deal anyway because a new state law ensured it would remain anonymous.

Attorneys challenging Arkansas' execution secrecy law are asking a judge to rule on their constitutional concerns before ruling on whether to issue a protective order to shield the drug makers' identity.

The attorneys for nine death row inmates filed the motion Monday in Pulaski County Circuit Court.

Arkansas officials last week asked Judge Wendell Griffen to issue a protective order shielding the state from releasing the drug information or limiting the disclosure to the inmates' attorneys.

The Arkansas Supreme Court says a lower-court judge overstepped his jurisdiction by halting the executions of eight death row inmates, but then granted its own stay so the inmates have enough time to challenge a state law that shields the source of death penalty drugs from the public.

The justices issued the ruling Tuesday, granting the state's request to toss out a stay granted this month by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen. But justices also immediately granted their own stay.

Stacey Eugene Johnson
Arkansas Department Of Correction

One of eight Arkansas death row inmates whose executions were stayed by a circuit court is asking the Arkansas Parole Board for clemency.

Stacey Eugene Johnson's defense attorney, Jeff Rosenzweig, told the board Thursday that Johnson may be innocent and his sentence should be commuted to life without parole.

Johnson was convicted in the 1993 death of Carol Heath, who was killed while her two young children were home.

Lawyers for the state of Arkansas have filed notice that they will appeal a lower court judge's temporary restraining order that halted eight planned executions scheduled to begin next week.

Pulaski County Judge Wendell Griffen

Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Wendell Griffen has ordered the state to disclose the contents of its three drug lethal injection mixture before proceeding with eight executions.

While state law allows the drugs’ names be withheld, attorneys for the inmates argue secrecy hampers their ability to challenge a potentially cruel and unusual form of punishment.  

University of Arkansas Bowen School of Law professor Angela Epps says the case may go before the state supreme court.

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

An Arkansas judge says he will rule by early next week on a request to dismiss a lawsuit brought by death row inmates seeking to stop eight executions scheduled to begin Oct. 21. 

A judge is set to consider arguments on Arkansas' request to dismiss a lawsuit from death row inmates challenging the state's secrecy law surrounding its execution drugs.

The case before Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Wendell Griffen on Wednesday comes two weeks before the first executions scheduled in Arkansas in nearly a decade.