Arkansas had originally scheduled eight executions in the span of 10 days because their lethal injection supply was set to expire at the end of the month. Less than 24 hours after the stay was issued, U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker temporarily halted the executions of the remaining seven death row inmates.
The Arkansas court said four of its seven justices agreed to keep the stay in place.
After the Arkansas Supreme Court halted two executions set for Monday, the state’s governor appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court for them to proceed as scheduled Monday night. Only Texas has executed six inmates in less time. The judge says he’s morally opposed to the death penalty, but that his beliefs shouldn’t prevent him from taking up certain cases.
KATV, citing anonymous officials, reports that death row inmate Don Davis has been transferred to the unit where the state’s Department of Correction was preparing to carry out executions. People gather at a rally opposing the state’s upcoming executions, on the front steps of Arkansas’ Capitol, Friday, April 14, 2017, in Little Rock, Ark.
“A drug’s expiration date should not be the contingent factor for the expedited execution of these 8 men”, Catholic Mobilizing Network had stated.
At a federal court hearing last week, prison officials testified they must conduct the executions with their current batch of midazolam, a sedative that is meant to mask the effects of drugs that will shut down the inmates’ lungs and hearts.
The state’s attorney general, Leslie Rutledge, has appealed against the court’s decision. If the state gets its way, it could perform three pairs of dual executions, though critics warn this increases the chances of something going wrong.
Arkansas uses potassium chloride in combination with vecuronium bromide and midazolam.
The maker of midazolam actually no longer sells their drug to states for the purposes of execution.
Rutledge’s opinion is shared by Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who scheduled the lethal injections and previously displayed confidence in the planned back-to-back executions, as well as the injection protocol, which has faced its own set of controversies.
OH had similar problems in 2014 when it used midazolam as part of a two-drug protocol. The judge ruled after McKesson Medical-Surgical alleged the state had duped the company into providing the drug, which is used to stop the inmate’s breathing. They noted that Oklahoma began requiring a week between single executions after flaws were uncovered after Clayton Lockett’s death during a midazolam execution in 2014. The company objects to the drug being used in lethal injections. Lawyers for the inmates also urged the St. Louis-based appeals court to review their claims that the rushed execution schedule “violates the evolving standards of decency that define the bounds of the Eighth Amendment”.
Rutledge filed an emergency petition with the Arkansas Supreme Court on Saturday seeking to overturn Griffen’s order.
Initially, eight men were on the calendar to die in 11 days but a federal judge on Thursday ordered a stay for Bruce Ward following a recommendation from the Arkansas Parole Board that he be granted clemency.
“These thoughts weigh heavily on the court, but the court has a responsibility to uphold the Constitution”. A federal judge issued stays for each of the inmates Saturday, according to AP. The lawyers contend that the cocktail of drugs that the state plans to use will cause “unconstitutional pain, suffering and torture” if the midazolam does not work as planned.
The inmates lost on some claims, including one that their lawyers couldn’t provide adequate counsel under the state’s schedule and that the tight timetable itself was improper.