Arkansas Prisons

The Arkansas Supreme Court has granted the state's request to put on hold a mandate to turn over information about the source of its execution drugs.

The temporary stay was issued about an hour before a noon Friday deadline set by Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Wendell Griffen, who ruled the day before that the state must disclose the information.

The Arkansas attorney general's office asked for the stay and also has filed a notice that it will appeal Griffen's ruling. 

Pulaski County Judge Wendell Griffen
PBS

A state judge has struck down a portion of Arkansas' law that keeps confidential the source of its execution drugs.

Pulaski County District Court Wendell Griffen also ruled Thursday that the state must disclose details of the drugs by noon Friday. 

He sided with death row inmates who challenged a law passed by legislators this year that shielded the identity of drug suppliers. 

The three drugs Arkansas plans to use to execute eight inmates meet federal potency and purity requirements, according to a laboratory hired by the Arkansas Department of Correction.

Attorneys for the Arkansas attorney general's office submitted an affidavit Wednesday showing the department had hired an FDA-certified pharmaceutical testing laboratory to determine that the midazolam, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride obtained by the state last year meet federal standards for potency and purity.

Asa Hutchinson governor
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is urging lawmakers to take a new look at the state's sentencing guidelines to find ways to cut the disparities in jail time offenders may receive for the same crimes.

Hutchinson on Monday told a task force looking at the state's criminal justice system it should review the guidelines judges are given for sentencing offenders. The Republican governor said he believes the guidelines aren't being followed strongly enough and should be given more weight.

File photo. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R).
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge plans to appeal a June ruling from the Arkansas Supreme Court that said an inmate sentenced to life without parole for a killing he committed as a juvenile should be resentenced.

A spokesman for Rutledge says she will file a writ in early December requesting that the U.S. Supreme Court weigh in on whether mandatory life sentences for all prisoners convicted of crimes they committed as juveniles should be thrown out.

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.

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