Friday, March 03, 2017

A display of magnificent cruelty

Arkansas has some lethal injection drugs. The supply of one of the three used is set to expire in a month. Rather than throw the drugs away, the State of Arkansas plans to execute 8 men, 2 at a time in 10 days to use them up.
After a 12-year interruption in executions, Arkansas plans an exceptional rush in late April, putting eight men to death over 10 days, before one of the state’s lethal injection drugs expires that month.

The governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, signed proclamations last week in his latest effort to restart the state’s capital punishment program, setting four execution dates for the eight inmates on death row, between April 17 and 27. Two men would be put to death on each of the four dates.

If Arkansas follows through with that timetable, it will be carrying out the death penalty at a rate unmatched by any state since the United States resumed capital punishment in 1977, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, a group that opposes capital punishment. In 1997, Texas came close, putting eight inmates to death in May and again in June, but not over such a short number of days, the group said.

The hurried schedule appears to be influenced by the expiration of a lethal injection drug in the state’s supply. Arkansas uses three drugs in executions, and its stock of midazolam, the first drug administered, expires in April, the state has said. Its supply of potassium chloride, the final drug in the series, expired in January, but the state has said it was confident it could acquire more.

The rush by Arkansas comes as the number of executions nationwide have steadily declined in recent years, as the 31 states with the death penalty have encountered legal and logistical challenges.

Across the country, officials in those states, including Arkansas, have struggled to acquire drugs to carry out executions, as pharmaceutical companies in the United States and Europe have restricted the use of their products in executions.
So despite the fact that the expiring drug at the best of times fails in its purpose of rendering the victim unconscious, Arkansas and its blood thirty governor are going full speed ahead with as many as they can squeeze in. One more thing, statistically one of the eight could be innocent.


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