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Arkansas Fights for Series of Double Executions
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Summary: Arkansas is fighting to execute eight death row prisoners before the end of the month.

Since Monday, Arkansas has learned that they are legally forbidden to perform a series of double executions. Instead of accepting that decision, however, the state’s lawyers are fighting to persuade judges to allow the punishments to still happen, and they are asking for a swift appeal.


“Immediate reversal is warranted,” Arkansas’ solicitor general, Lee Rudofsky, wrote in the state’s appeal. “Delaying Appellees’ executions by even a few days — until Arkansas’s supply of midazolam expires — will make it impossible for Arkansas to carry out Appellees’ just and lawful sentences.”

Arkansas’s supply of midazolam, the key sedative used in lethal injections, expires at the end of the month, so Arkansas scheduled eight men to be killed by the end of this 11-day period. The inmates filed a lawsuit, stating that their scheduled deaths would be a cruel and unusual punishment, and the executions were halted on Saturday.

After reviewing the case, a state judge ruled that Arkansas could not kill the inmates at this time because the state may have acquired another drug, an anesthesia, illegally after not informing its supplier of what the state was going to do with it.

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Bruce Earl Ward and Don William Davis Jr. were scheduled to be killed on Monday night, but on Friday, prison officials were informed that they were blocked from using a paralyzing drug in their lethal injection cocktail until further investigation. Arkansas has filed an appeal on all of their execution cases.

The state’s supply of midazolam expires on April 30, and Arkansas said that it cannot obtain additional doses of the sedative, which masks the effects of the other drugs that shut down the inmates’ heart and lungs. Thus, the state has asked judges to review the appeal quickly while inmates are asking the judges to take their time reviewing transcripts and rulings and allow oral arguments. While the prisoners appear to be running the clock, they are also asking for the right to not have such an important decision be rushed.

According to ABC News, Arkansas could still execute Ward and Davis tonight if the U.S. Supreme Court allows it. The prisoners have said that using midazolam is cruel and unusual because it is not a painkiller.

The prisoners have said that using the sedative midazolam is cruel and unusual because it is not a painkiller. In their filing to the 8th Circuit in St. Louis, they said that they should be spared the death penalty because the practice is no longer decent by today’s evolving standards. They cited the midazolam execution of Clayton Lockett in 2014. After his death, an investigation uncovered execution flaws, which may have resulted in him feeling pain.

As this legal battle drags on, Arkansas’ execution facility is prepping for the inmates’ deaths. According to local station KATV, Davis has been transferred to the execution center and he has been scheduled to meet with a spiritual advisor. His last meal has also been planned.

According to NPR, Arkansas has not enacted the death penalty for over a decade because of continuous pushback from prisoner rights’ activists and others against the use of the death penalty.

What do you think of the death penalty? Let us know in the comments below.


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