ARKANSAS SCHEDULES UNPRECEDENTED EIGHT EXECUTIONS IN TEN-DAY PERIOD
February 27, 2017: Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) signed orders on February 27 for an unprecedented eight executions to be carried out over a period of ten days in April.
The scheduled dates for the four sets of double executions are: April 17, Bruce Ward and Don Davis; April 20, Stacey Johnson and Ledell Lee; April 24, Jack Jones and Marcel Williams; and April 27, Kenneth Williams and Jason McGehee.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge asked that the dates be set after the U.S. Supreme Court on February 21 refused to hear the appeal of nine death row inmates who challenged a state law forbidding disclosure of the companies supplying drugs used in lethal injections, thus upholding Arkansas' lethal injection protocol.
Because of drug shortages and challenges to its lethal injection procedures, the state has not carried out an execution since 2005. No other state has conducted as many as eight executions in a single month since executions resumed in the U.S. in 1977, and no state has carried out eight executions in ten days.
Scheduling two or more executions on the same day is also unusual; states have executed two or three inmates on the same day just ten times in the last forty years.
The hurried schedule appears to be an attempt to use the state's current supply of eight doses of midazolam, which will expire at the end of April.
Arkansas does not currently have a supply of potassium chloride, the state's stock of potassium chloride expired on Jan. 1, but believes it can obtain supplies of that drug prior to the scheduled execution dates. (Sources: Associated Press, Reuters, 27/02/2017)