Arkansas Prisons

A lawyer is trying to obtain information about the drugs Arkansas will use in an unprecedented run of executions next month, but prison officials say the information is a secret they must keep.

Steven Shults was in court Thursday seeking the drugs' packing labels. The prison officials say that, after The Associated Press previously used labels to identify drugmakers, they will no longer distribute them.

Pulaski County Judge Wendell Griffen
PBS

An Arkansas judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the state's lethal injection law, the latest setback for efforts to block the state's unprecedented plan to conduct four double executions over a 10-day period next month.

Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Wendell Griffen granted the state's motion Tuesday to dismiss the lawsuit filed by eight inmates facing lethal injection next month. Griffen said he has no jurisdiction over the case after the state Supreme Court upheld the lethal injection law and protocol.

Will Bond Bryan King Dan Greenberg
Jacob Kuaffman / KUAR News

The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a bill Monday that would require offenders sentenced three times previously to the Department of Correction to serve at least 80% of their sentences on the next commitment.

Senate Bill 177 by Sen. Bryan King, R-Green Forest, passed by a voice vote and now goes to the full Senate.

Jason McGehee
Department of Correction

The Arkansas Supreme Court has rejected an effort to block the execution for one of eight inmates who are scheduled to be put to death next month.

Justices on Thursday denied a motion to recall the mandate in the case of convicted murderer Jason McGehee, who is scheduled to die by lethal injection on April 27. McGehee's attorney had asked justices to vacate his death sentence and send his case back to a lower court for resentencing, citing problems with the verdict forms in his resentencing.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed into law a bill that sets up three centers aimed at reducing the incarceration rate of those with mental illness.

The governor has earmarked $5 million for three regional Mental Health Crisis Stabilization Centers, saying they will benefit public safety. If law enforcement officers suspect someone they encounter is in need of mental health treatment, the staff at the centers can offer evaluations and treatment.

Hutchinson signed the bill Wednesday. He had listed it among his priorities for the 2017 legislative session.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has rejected an effort to invalidate orders setting executions for eight death row inmates, saying there's no stay preventing the executions from taking place.

The state's highest court on Thursday granted Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's request to clarify that there is no stay for the eight men who are scheduled to be put to death in April. The inmates' attorneys had argued a stay was still in place since an amended complaint over Arkansas' lethal injection law was pending in a lower court.

Attorneys for eight Arkansas death row inmates scheduled to be put to death next month are asking the state's highest court to void Gov. Asa Hutchinson's orders setting their execution dates.

The inmates asked the state Supreme Court on Wednesday to invalidate the proclamations scheduling their executions. On Monday, Hutchinson set four double executions during a 10-day period in April, though the state is lacking one of the drugs needed to put the men to death.

Execution dates have been set for eight Arkansas death row inmates, but attorneys for the men argue their appeals have not been exhausted. The state hasn’t carried out an execution since 2005.

Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a proclamation Monday scheduling four double executions on four separate days in April. It comes after the U.S. Supreme Court last week rejected a request by the inmates to review a state court ruling upholding an Arkansas law that keeps the source of lethal injection drugs secret.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has set execution dates for eight death row inmates, even though the state lacks one of three drugs needed to put the men to death.

The Republican released a statement Monday saying he signed a proclamation scheduling executions for the eight inmates, though no dates were released.

The move comes days after the state's attorney general told the governor the men had exhausted their appeals and there were no more legal obstacles to their executions.

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / Arkansas Public Media

The Arkansas Senate is expected to take up a bill Thursday that attempts to resolve problems with the state’s criminal justice system. The proposal has been controversial, requiring many revisions as lawmakers have worked with prosecutors, judges and prison officials.

The goal is to resolve problems that led to Arkansas in recent years having the fastest-growing prison population in the country, according to the Council of State Governments Justice Center.

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