Arkansas races against the clock to begin executions
- Author: Larry Hoffman Apr 18, 2017,
Apr 18, 2017, 15:47
Arkansas was still preparing for the lethal injections set for Monday for Ward and inmate Don Davis with the hopes of winning last-minute reversals of the various federal and state rulings blocking the executions, prisons spokesman Solomon Graves told reporters.
Federal District Court Judge Kristine Baker ruled on Saturday to halt the state's plan to execute 6 inmates (the execution of two others had been stayed in other rulings).
About 20 minutes before the execution warrant for Davis expired, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Rutledge's request to vacate the stay.
Arkansas began preparing two death row inmates for execution on Monday night, despite a flurry of legal challenges attempting to hold back what would be the most intense burst of judicial killing in the United States in more than half a century.
Arkansas Department of Correction employees continued their preparations to execute Davis even though the execution's status was up in the air, reports CBS Little Rock affiliate KTVH-TV. The inmates on death row, meanwhile, have asked the courts to take the time and avoid a "rushed analysis".
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. Baker, dealt another blow Saturday, April 15, 2017, to Arkansas' unprecedented plan to execute eight inmates in an 11-day period, saying the men have the right to challenge a drug protocol that could expose them to "severe pain".
Arkansas Solicitor General Lee Rudofsky countered that the Arkansas inmates were trying to run out the clock, "blatantly attempting to manipulate the judicial system and shield themselves from justice". Rutledge said the state court's ruling was based "on a misinterpretation of federal law". In 1985, Governor Bill Clinton appointed him Chairman of the Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission, making him the first Black person named to that state agency and the first to chair it.
On Friday, Griffen granted a restraining order preventing Arkansas from using its supply of vecuronium bromide, one of three drugs it uses in executions, because the supplier said the state misleadingly obtained the drug. According to the Arkansas Department of Correction, Davis had a "last meal" of fried chicken, rolls, great northern beans, mashed potatoes and strawberry cake. A significant delay in these arguments could indefinitely halt these executions since the state's supply of Midazolam will run out at the end of the month and state officials have said they have no source to obtain a further supply of the sedative.
Hutchinson adds it's not an expiration date driving his decision to carry out what would be the first executions in arkansas in 12 years.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's office said she would appeal the state ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The drugs used in lethal injections by some American states - 19 of the 50 no longer execute prisoners - have become increasingly hard to obtain. But the Supreme Court declined to intervene early Tuesday, leaving the state supreme court's stay in effect and sparing Davis' life for the time being. Davis came within six hours of execution in 2010 before he was spared by the state Supreme Court.
Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Wendell Griffen had allowed himself to be strapped to a cot in a simulation of a prisoner awaiting execution by lethal injection on Friday at a protest outside the governor's mansion in Little Rock. Arkansas originally scheduled eight executions to take place before April 30, when one of its lethal injection drugs expires.