Arkansas hurries to implement a line of executions before its supply of sedatives expires
On April 20, late Thursday night, Arkansas carried out its first execution following a series of 7 more in the next week. The state will continue its efforts to execute capital punishment be fore its supply of sedatives expires.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson claimed that it was necessary to follow the law and bring closure to victims’ families. However, within a week the state is behind schedule and in a scramble, having only one execution completed, three more scheduled and four that are on hold as inmates exhaust their final appeals.
The inmates in line for their executions are Ledell Lee, who was executed last Thursday, April 20. Marcel Wayne Williams and Jack Harold Jones were scheduled for Monday April 24. Williams was convict ed in 1997 of murdering Stacy Errickson in 1994. Jones was convicted in 1996 of rape and murder. Kenneth Dewayne Williams is scheduled for Thursday, April 27, and he was convicted of capital murder in 2000. The rest of the four inmates are Ja son Farrel McGehee, Bruce Earl Ward, Don Williams Davis and Stacy Eugene Johnson who are on hold. There are several rea sons for halting the final recommendation. Claims for mental incompetency and DNA test ing that may prove innocence demonstrate why the following inmates are at an interruption with their scheduled executions.
When an execution is scheduled, legal issues continuously appear. Several include clemency appeals, claims of mental illness and impairment or ineffective counsel. In addition, a growing number of pharmaceutical companies refuse to make additional drugs available for capital punishment. Also, in mates have attempted to claim cruel and unusual punishment from revised execution methods.
Specifically, the eight Arkansas prisoners claimed that midazolam, which was the drug used to render inmates unconscious in botched executions in other states, does not reliably prevent a painful death. However, the claim was denied by the Arkansas Supreme Court.
Drug makers are attempting to oppose, such as McKesson Corp., who tried to make the Arkansas Department of Correction return a supply of vecuronium bromide, which is used for paralyzing inmates. McKesson Corp. argued that it should only be used for medical purposes only. Other companies, Fresenius Kabi USA and WestWard Pharmaceuticals, filed a brief lawsuit arguing contracts prohibit their products from being used in executions.
In the meantime, the federal government and 31 states currently use capital punishment as a legal penalty. The U.S. is the only western country, of 23 countries, to perform executions. The U.S. was the first to develop the method of lethal injection.
The main argument for capital punishment is the morality. With the claim of seeking justice within the penalty, capital punishment also holds the risk of extreme pain and torture if implemented improperly. Another controversy surrounding capital punishment is its constitutionality. Is this simply a consequence after being charged with a crime, tried before a jury and merely convicted and sentenced? Or can this violate the Eighth Amendment that states no cruel and unusual punishment may be imposed? Several argue that the death penalty is unreliable and arbitrary in determining the level and amount of crimes that allow for this. Other factors such as attorney quality, closure for victims’ families, physicians assisting in executions and even race are variable determinants that weigh the pros and cons.