Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s hurryup schedule for resumption of executions in Arkansas is drawing national (and probably worldwide) attention.
We reported several days ago that Hutchinson had set eight executions over 10 days, April 17-27. They’d be the first here in 11 years if they come to pass.
So many executions in such a short amount of time is “unprecedented” in the United States, said a spokesman for a group that monitors US executions.
Since the resumption of the use of the death penalty in 1977, only twice has a state conducted eight executions in a single calendar month, said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. Texas did so in May and June of 1977.
But “no state has ever conducted eight executions over a 10-day period,” Dunham said.
I heard from a New York Times reporter working on a similar story earlier today. I expect this story, which speaks of the “exceptional rush,” to be expanded.
I told the New York Times reporter that I didn’t think many in Arkansas would find the lethal injection schedule unusual or objectionable and it certainly wouldn’t harm Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s political standing to have expedited things. Remember 1999, when Gov. Mike Huckabee had four inmates killed on the same night? The then-editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Griffin Smith jr., deemed the story unworthy of page one. And, Wikipedia tells us, we hanged seven on July 25, 1902.
Lawyers for the inmates intend to press their argument about the flaws in the lethal injection protocol to the end. Wrote one of the attorneys, my former colleague John Williams, in a letter to the governor we published at the linked Arkansas Times article:
We believe it would be a mistake for you to uncritically accept the Supreme Court’s opinion as a license to use the current protocol. Not only would our clients suffer, but so would our State’s image and moral standing in the eyes of the country and the world.
The eyes of the world? As if ….