Arkansas judge rejects bid to block inmate's execution

An unprecedented series of executions scheduled in Arkansas later this month will bring long-awaited closure to victims' families, the state's governor said on Thursday, as USA judges mull whether to halt the proceedings on grounds they are excessive and unlawful.

Separately, Ohio has asked the entire U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit to re-consider a decision last week from a three-judge panel from that court blocking the state's lethal injection process, the attorney general's office said.

Seven death-row inmates in Arkansas are slated for execution by the end of April because the state's execution drug is about to expire and the ma...

Their lawsuit is among a flurry of legal challenges aimed at halting the upcoming executions.

Arkansas has not carried out an execution for more than a decade, but plans to execute two men per day on 17, 20 and 24 April, and one man on 27 April, because its supply of the controversial execution drug midazolam will expire at the end of the month.

Inmates Bruce Ward (top row L to R), Don Davis, Ledell Lee, Stacy Johnson, Jack Jones (bottom row L to R), Marcel Williams, Kenneth Williams and Jason Mcgehee are shown in these booking photo provided March 21, 2017. "More significantly, the use of the medicines for lethal injections creates a public-health risk by undermining the safety and supply of lifesaving medicines".

"Arkansas has a strict secrecy law surrounding its execution procedures, and has refused to say how it acquired the drugs it intends to use", the Guardian notes.




Company spokesman Matt Kuhn said: "We can only conclude Arkansas may have acquired this product from an unauthorised seller".

Two pharmaceutical companies are asking a federal judge to prevent Arkansas from using its drugs in the planned execution of seven death row inmates later this month. "Pharmaceuticals obtained in this manner are at risk of adulteration or chemical change due to improper handling such as failure to maintain proper temperature levels during storage and transport". U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker is considering whether the expedited schedule unconstitutionally impacts the inmates' access to effective legal counsel and increases the risk of error by the Department of Correction. No state has ever executed as many inmates in as short a period since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. The inmates are challenging the compressed timetable of the executions as well as the use of midazolam, a sedative that's been used in flawed executions in other states.

Hutchinson defended the execution timeline earlier Thursday, saying he believed prison officials were prepared.

Ward was convicted of murdering 18-year-old gas station employee Rebecca Doss in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1989.

"We are troubled that this current execution schedule appears not to allow for these necessary safeguards and prioritizes expediency above due process", Klein wrote in a letter to the governor.

A number of recent instances have been documented of prisoners who have been given midazolam writhing, gasping and struggling in agony for prolonged periods of time before dying.

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