State set to kill eight killers over 10 days in April
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.