A shortage of required citizen witnesses to watch eight lethal injections over a 10-day period next month prompted the state prison director to call on Rotary Club members to volunteer, reported the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Citizen witnesses are there to verify that the individual executions are carried out according to law. A volunteer must be at least 21 years old, an Arkansas resident, have no felony criminal history and have no connection to the inmate or to the victim.
"The last times these were set, we actually did not have enough people volunteer," Department of Correction Director Wendy Kelley told Little Rock Rotary Club 99 members. "You seem to be a group that does not have felony backgrounds and are over 21. So if you're interested in serving in that area, in this serious role, just call my office."
The eight executions are scheduled two at a time beginning April 17 and ending April 27.
Department of Correction spokesman Solomon Graves said he does not have a current count on the number of citizen witnesses who have signed up for the role. Kelley is making informal inquiries to find more volunteers, he said.
"Depending on the response received, further recruitment may not be necessary," Graves said.
The state's death penalty law, A.C.A. 16-90-502, Section 3, requires that the prison director procure no fewer than six and no more than 12 citizen witnesses for each execution. Kelley must determine that witnesses meet the requirements and that they do not present a security risk.
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