Arkansas' planned to carry out eight executions in 10 days. Two of the eight were postponed and the remaining six executions were halted by state and federal judges who raised constitutional concerns, according to Arkansasonline.com.
U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker's decision, filed about 6 a.m. Saturday, to block the executions prompted immediate rebukes from state officials determined to see the six sentences of death carried out. The state reacted to her decision by filing federal court appeals Saturday.
Lawyers were already scrambling to respond to a temporary restraining order issued late Friday by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen to stop the prison system from using one of the three drugs employed in lethal injections. After issuing his order, Griffen went to the Governor's Mansion and joined a protest outside against the death penalty.
n February, Gov. Asa Hutchinson scheduled the executions of eight men over an 11-day span in April. Since then, two of the inmates received court stays, one of which was issued Friday.
The executions schedule -- a pace rarely seen since the death penalty resumed 40 years ago in the United States -- has drawn international media attention to Arkansas.
The first of the executions was scheduled for Monday, but barring a reversal by judges or a higher court, Don Davis will not be put to death that day.
In a statement released Saturday, Hutchinson said he would meet Monday with state Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and prison officials to discuss options.
Arkansas last put someone to death in 2005.
Rushing to resume executions, critics say, increases the chance for human error and trauma. But prison officials and state attorneys say waiting now would put the state's death penalty on hold indefinitely.
Arkansas' supply of the sedative midazolam, which is the first of three drugs used for lethal injections, expires at the end of April. After that, officials say finding a supplier willing to allow the drug to be used to kill someone will be exceptionally difficult.
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