State set to kill eight killers over 10 days in April

The Weekly Vista - - Opinion - MAYLON RICE Maylon Rice is a for­mer jour­nal­ist who worked for sev­eral north­west Ar­kan­sas pub­li­ca­tions. He can be reached via email at may­lon­trice@ya­ The opin­ions ex­pressed are those of the au­thor.

Yes, soon, Ar­kan­sas will be­gin killing the killers on the in­fa­mous Death Row.

It has been 11 years since a res­i­dent of the state, charged, tried and con­victed of cap­i­tal mur­der, has been ex­e­cuted by the state of Ar­kan­sas.

But the state, un­der Gov. Asa Hutchin­son and with the le­gal aid, moral as­sis­tance and, yes, sadly, un­bri­dled en­thu­si­asm for such an act, from At­tor­ney Gen­eral Les­lie Rut­ledge, will be­gin killing the killers start­ing April 17.

Iron­i­cally, that day is the day af­ter the Chris­tian ob­ser­vance of Easter.

There will be, un­der cur­rent plans, two ex­e­cu­tions at a time, with all eight deaths to be con­ducted by the state and con­cluded by April 27 – set­ting a mod­ern-day record for state-in­duced deaths, ac­cord­ing to Robert Dun­ham, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Death Penalty In­for­ma­tion Cen­ter.

Arkansans who voted for Asa Hutchin­son for gov­er­nor and Rut­ledge for at­tor­ney gen­eral al­most three years ago knew both can­di­dates were in­tent upon fol­low­ing the law and car­ry­ing out the sen­tences of death im­posed upon the in­di­vid­u­als con­victed — as they both re­peated while cam­paign­ing.

The main rea­son for no ex­e­cu­tions un­der the Hutchin­son/Rut­ledge reign is that the ap­peals were still on-go­ing.

And then came the con­tro­versy over the cock­tail of three drugs used to cause the in­mates’ death.

Of­fi­cials with the state De­part­ment of Cor­rec­tion have been in­structed by Hutchin­son and Rut­ledge to ob­tain the nec­es­sary drugs to con­duct the lethal in­jec­tions.

Rut­ledge has time and time again sought to change the law to al­low this process of ob­tain­ing the drugs and hid­ing the man­u­fac­tur­ers’ names from the pub­lic to go for­ward.

Al­most all the pieces are in place, hence the ag­gres­sive sched­ule to ex­e­cute eight men, all of whom have ex­hausted their direct ap­peals of guilt and stand ready for the state to move on their ex­e­cu­tions.

The un­bri­dled en­thu­si­asm by Hutchin­son and Rut­ledge is ap­par­ent.

Once the last stay of ex­e­cu­tion was re­cently re­moved by a court or­der and the U.S. Supreme Court’s re­fusal to hear oral ar­gu­ments, Rut­ledge in a self-pro­mot­ing state­ment said: “The Ar­kan­sas Supreme Court agreed with me that the stay of ex­e­cu­tions lifted when the Court is­sued the man­date. It is past time for the vic­tims’ fam­i­lies to see jus­tice for the hor­ri­ble mur­ders of their loved ones. My of­fice is pre­pared to re­spond to any and all chal­lenges that might oc­cur be­tween now and the ex­e­cu­tion dates. I will do all I can to fi­nally bring clo­sure to the vic­tims’ fam­i­lies and to honor the ver­dicts and sen­tences im­posed by ju­ries decades ago.”

This hurry-up sched­ule for re­sump­tion of ex­e­cu­tions in Ar­kan­sas is draw­ing na­tional and world­wide at­ten­tion. A re­cent CNN report stated: “So many ex­e­cu­tions in such a short amount of time is un­prece­dented in the United States.”

Only Texas, on two sep­a­rate oc­ca­sions, has ex­e­cuted more in­mates in a month than Ar­kan­sas will have done if this sched­ule is to stand. Since the re­sump­tion of the use of the death penalty in 1977, twice Texas has con­ducted eight ex­e­cu­tions in a sin­gle cal­en­dar month back in May and June of 1977.

No state has con­ducted eight ex­e­cu­tions in a 10-day pe­riod, un­less Ar­kan­sas sets that record next month.

Ar­kan­sas does not need to be a record set­ter in ex­e­cu­tions.

Once, the state, un­der Gov. Mike Huck­abee, back in 1999, ex­e­cuted four men on the same evening.

Some­how the state es­caped a black-eye over that mul­ti­ple ex­e­cu­tion.

Cur­rently there are 34 in­mates on Ar­kan­sas’ Death Row.

If this fast-track ex­e­cu­tion plan goes through, Hutchin­son and Rut­ledge can cam­paign for re-elec­tion on an al­most 25 per­cent re­duc­tion in the in­mates on death row.

Or hang eight scalps on their re­spec­tive gun belts for all to see what they have helped speed along.

Are these eight men on Death Row for hor­ren­dous of­fenses and mur­ders? Yes.

Ar­kan­sas will be­gin killing the killers on April 17.


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