Sunday, April 9, 2017

Arkansas Eight gets day in court as executions loom

Tomorrow a hearing will begin in federal court in Little Rock, Arkansas regarding a lawsuit filed by the Arkansas Eight--death row prisoners scheduled for execution this month. The lawsuit asserts that the proposed execution schedule is a violation of the Eighth Amendment and their right to counsel. 
On February 27, 2017, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that he was scheduling two executions to occur back-to-back on each of the following days: April 17, 20, 24, and 27, 2017. The Governor’s stated reason for the compressed schedule is that Arkansas’s supply of the controversial drug midazolam will expire at the end of April 2017. Midazolam has been implicated in botched executions across the country.  
Arkansas death-row prisoners have filed a lawsuit arguing that the state’s unprecedented schedule of eight executions in a ten-day span amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, violates their right to counsel, and violates their right to access the courts and to counsel during the executions. No state has attempted to conduct executions at this pace in at least half a century. The prisoners have filed the Complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. The prisoners also filed a Motion for a Preliminary Injunction, which asks the federal court to stay the executions pending full consideration of the lawsuit.
The Complaint states:  

“Taking into consideration the complexity of the procedure for each Plaintiff, the added pressure of eight executions in ten days, the lack of time necessary for review, and the lack of experience of those involved at the highest levels—combined with the use of a drug that is insufficient for its intended purpose and that has caused botched executions in the past—there is a substantial and objectively intolerable risk of suffering and harm to Plaintiffs.” 
To read complaint CLICK HERE

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