A later investigation into what had gone wrong found that the execution team had been under such huge stress from the plan to kill two men in one night that they had made mistakes, and a new rule was introduced that executions had to be at least seven days apart.
Hutchinson has scheduled the executions to occur before the state’s supply of midazolam, a sedative used in lethal injections, expires at the end of the month.
‘They want to kill as many of us off as possible because they don’t want to waste the drug. Stevens called it “an attempt that I think is scientifically valid”, while also acknowledging that the research needs to be “more robust” to be published in a scientific journal.
Later this month, after 12 years without executing an inmate, the state of Arkansas will go on an unprecedented killing spree when it puts seven men to death in a span of 11 days.
Their names and scheduled execution dates are Don Davis and Bruce Earl Ward (April 17), Ledelle Lee and Stacey Johnson (April 20), Marcel Williams and Jack Jones, Jr.
However, the execution of McGehee has been blocked by a federal judge because the state’s schedule does not allow enough time for the clemency petition to go through the system. Drugs for use in executions have become extremely hard for states to procure.
“This many executions just creates a huge, huge risk for a botched execution, which will lead to suffering”, said Furonda Brasfield, executive director of the Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. Even if Arkansas pulls it off, justice will lose’.
Pharmaceutical companies are no longer manufacturing drugs used for lethal injections, including Midazolam, due to pressure from those who oppose the death penalty. The drug has caused problems before – in Oklahoma, an inmate writhed and moaned on a gurney for 43 minutes after his injection, and in Arizona, where the fatal dose took almost two hours to work. He said he has analyzed in-vitro studies, or studies done in petri dishes, to discover at what doses the drug starts to affect cells and at what point it stops producing an anesthetic effect, or reaches its ceiling of effectiveness. In order for Arkansas to not “waste” their supply, they’ll need to use it all before the end of April.
Lee, 51, was sentenced to die for the 1993 death of Debra Reese, a neighbor who was beaten to death in her home with a tire iron that her husband had given her for protection. “I haven’t wanted clemency ever”.
At the same hearing, describing her work among prisoners and the indigent, she said she would “be patient and treat them with respect” as a judge.
Much of the testimony in a federal court Tuesday centered around the first drug in the protocol: midazolam.
“All of the scheduled executions must be halted for good”, said James Clark, a campaigner with Amnesty International USA, said in a statement. Yet despite the Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 ruling, in 2015, that the drug’s use does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment, several condemned men snorted, struggled for air and were seen writhing during midazolam executions.
According to Brian Stull, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Capital Punishment Project, “By racing to use a drug known to play a part in botched executions, the governor risks debasing the state of Arkansas, its citizens, and the very American traditions of justice by torturing prisoners to death”. The sedative is becoming more commonly administered to death row inmates before they are injected with vecuronium bromide, which stops their breathing, and potassium chloride, which stops their hearts as other sedatives have become hard for states to acquire.