Published: Wed, April 19, 2017
U.S. | By Eddie Scott

Supreme Court denies Arkansas execution

"It is that process that we are seeing played out day by day, and we expect it to continue".

But there was a victory for the state when a federal court lifted an order that blocked all seven executions because of suffering caused by the lethal injection.

There are still five Arkansas executions scheduled before the end of April; a state parole board voted to recommend one of the original eight death row inmates, Jason McGehee, for clemency. In fact, it was his second "last meal", the first coming in 2010 before his execution was stayed at the last minute. The state is appealing her ruling.

(END OPTIONAL TRIM.) In a sharply worded dissent on Monday, Associate Justice Shawn A. Womack of the State Supreme Court complained about the delay that allowed Davis and Ward, who was also convicted of capital murder, to live. His lawyers claim he is mentally disabled and unfit for the death penalty.

While lethal injection was meant to be painless, death-penalty opponents say the risk of badly botched executions, with inmates writhing in agony for long minutes, is unacceptably high. This was the sixth failed execution date for Davis. "There is no way this unprecedented number of executions can be carried out without complications".

In a statement on 13 April, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, urged the state's governor to reconsider the scheduled executions and reduce the sentences to life imprisonment.

Who is Arkansas still scheduled to execute? "On Holy Saturday, we remember how Jesus descended into hell to set prisoners free", Bishop Dewane stated April 13.

"The schedule of executions was not set by the demands of justice, but by the arbitrary politics of punishment", he said.

Arkansas has faced a barrage of legal challenges, which have so far resulted in three of the executions being halted and criticism that it was acting recklessly. People gather at a rally opposing the state's upcoming executions, on the front steps of Arkansas' Capitol, Friday, April 14, 2017, in Little Rock, Ark. Twice in 1997, Texas executed eight prisoners in a single month, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Arkansas' Supreme Court halted two executions hours before they were scheduled to take place Monday, but will move forward with others. Arkansas planned to complete the executions in 10 days. First, midazolam, a sedative, would be given to render an inmate unconscious.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued a statement Monday evening that said, in part, "We have asked the US Supreme Court and hope to get a decision later tonight".

The medical supplier McKesson Corp. refiled its lawsuit Tuesday before a judge in Pulaski County.

McKesson alleges that it filled the state's order for the drug under the notion that ADC would use it for "legitimate medical objective, consistent with Arkansas State Medical Board Regulations", which state in part that licensed physicians can not administer risky or controlled drugs to someone for a reason other than a legitimate medical goal.

"The Department of Corrections' attention now shifts to the executions that are scheduled for Thursday", Graves said. Despite the secrecy measure, prison officials have said it will be very hard to find a supplier willing to sell Arkansas midazolam after its current stock expires.

It is also appealing against Mr Griffen's order that the prison system cannot use a paralysing drug until he could determine whether the state obtained it properly.

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