It’s been 11 years since the last execution in Arkansas took place. Now they’re about to make history by expediting the deaths of 8 men over a period of 10 days, a rate never seen before in state-sanctioned executions. Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a proclamation Monday scheduling the executions on four separate days between April 17 and 27, with two scheduled per day.
Arkansas’ public defender’s office argued that three of the men facing execution are protected by a stay that was issued by the state Supreme Court on October 20, 2015. The complaint was dismissed in the case filed by their representative and public defender John Williams, but an amended complaint was filed on Friday and is currently still pending.
The move is also being widely criticized by human rights organizations. “The Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (ACADP) is outraged by … plans to carry out eight executions within the span of ten days in April,” the organization said in statement, calling the mass execution “grotesque and unprecedented.”
The Arkansas Department of Correction reports that one of the three drugs used in the lethal injection cocktail expired in January, and a prison spokesman has said the state has not obtained a new supply. Arkansas Governor Hutchinson has said he’s positive the state can (and will) find a new supply before the scheduled executions in April.
A drug secrecy law passed in the state in 2015 will allow pharmaceutical companies to supply the drugs used in the lethal injection without disclosing it to the public in order to avoid scrutiny. Attorneys in the state representing inmates argued this controversial law violates constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment.