Arkansas death penalty

Arkansas carried out the U.S.’s first double execution in 17 years on April 24th, 2017. The last double execution to occur happened in Texas, in 2000, when the state executed two killers.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, or DPIC, Jack Jones and Marcel Williams were the inmates who were put on death row and executed on April 24, 2017. Both Jack Jones and Marcel Williams were convicted for murder, kidnapping, and rape, and were sent to prison with life sentences. These two were the second and third people executed in a eight day period.

After the two men’s trials, the Governor of Arkansas had to make a tough choice of whether to let them live with life sentences or to issue a death penalty. According to CBS News, the Governor decided to issue the death penalty, and the jury voted with Governor Hutchinson, backing his decision to issue the death penalty.

One horrific reason, that Governor Hutchinson used to justify his decision, was that the state needed to use up its supply of midazolam, a drug used for lethal injections before it expired.

Pharmacists have been hesitant to supply states with the drug midazolam because they don’t want to be the cause of someone’s death. Midazolam has also been involved in several botched executions according to Live Science. The term “botched” is used as in the drug either didn’t work as it was supposed to, and left the person conscious, or the IV was placed incorrectly and the drug never fully worked.

This story truly became interesting when the details of the other Arkansas executions were uncovered. According to lawyers, and other media sources present, almost all of the deaths were botched in some way, ways that would make the death slow and tortuous.

Immediately after the injection of Jack Jones, the lawyer of Marcel Williams filed an emergency stay in federal district court. His reasoning was that Jones’ execution had seemed inhumane and painful, so he made this last ditch attempt to try and keep his client alive. The state completely disregarded this saying his claims were: “Utterly baseless.”

Witnesses of the Jones injection said it took the officials in charge 45 minutes to try to find a place for the injection in his neck. When they were finished sticking him in the neck, unsuccessfully trying to find a place to kill him, they eventually had to move elsewhere on his body. When the poor, scared man was finally injected, the officials didn’t wait the required 5 minutes to perform a consciousness check, and he was gulping air and struggling against the restraints.

The execution of Williams was held off until 9:30 pm Central Time after one judge accepted the appeal for a stay in court, and a short uneventful hearing took place. The Williams injection looked much less painful.

This double execution was part of a schedule set forth by the Governor to execute eight people in eleven days. Of those eight scheduled, only four have happened with the others receiving stays in court, and/or some clemency.

Why is it so hard for the government to find an effective injection that kills painlessly and quickly? This question will need to be answered if executions are to continue, but at the same time, the government could care less, after all, it would be a shame if their store of drugs for lethal injection went to waste.

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