The killer drug will expire. So, the government authorities in Arkansas in USA have thought it prudent to kill eight death row inmates within 11 days before the lethal chemical becomes unusable.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson sanctioned the executions, starting 17 April, as he said the state needed to use up its last batch of a sedative called midazolam before it expires and becomes unavailable.
If the lawyers’ do not win their case, Don Davis and Bruce Ward will be given the lethal injection next week. Three days later, Stacey Johnson and Ledell Lee will die. On 24 April it will be the turn of Marcel Williams and Jack Jones. The last prisoner to be executed is Kenneth Williams on 27 April.
Lawyers argue that such hurries executions could prompt mistakes and suffering of inmates and employees.
Such was the case of Clayton Lockett, who was in agony for 43 minutes during his execution after authorities in Oklahoma killed two people in one night and made mistakes. The prison warden described it as a “bloody mess”. Oklahoma imposed a new rule that executions must be scheduled seven days apart.
The four white men and four black men scheduled to die in Arkansas are among the 35 inmates on death row in the state, and were convicted of murders between 1989 and 1999.
Brian Stull of the American Civil Liberties Union wrote that the state is “rushing to kill” these eight men.
“By racing to use a drug known to play a part in botched executions, the governor risks debasing the state of Arkansas, its citizens, and the very American traditions of justice by torturing prisoners to death,” he said.
Midazolam is a sedative normally used in hospital for minor procedures, and Stull argued that when it is combined with two other drugs normally used, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride, it “produces unspeakable pain before death”.
Florida and Arizona scrapped using the drug.
In March, the Arkansas Governor said at a press conference: “I would love to have those extended over a period of multiple months and years, but that’s not the circumstances that I find myself in. And, again, the families of the victims that have endured this for so many years deserve a conclusion to it.”