| LITTLE ROCK, Ark., April 13
LITTLE ROCK, Ark., April 13 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 U.S. judges mull whether to halt
the proceedings on grounds they are excessive and unlawful.
Arkansas, which has not had an execution in 12 years, plans
to kill seven inmates over 11 days from April 17, which includes
three pairs of dual executions. 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.
“There is no question of guilt,” Republican Governor Asa
Hutchinson told reporters. "They (the victims' families) need
closure and they don’t think they have it."
Some of the convicted murderers set to die have been on
death row for more than 20 years. The state has not held
executions for more than a decade due to legal battles over its
death chamber protocols and secrecy surrounding its drug
Hutchinson has toured the Cummins Unit prison, located in
the small town of Grady, that will conduct the lethal injections
and said the staff set to carry out the executions is
experienced and practiced.
About two dozen former corrections officials and
administrators wrote to Hutchinson in late March urging him to
abandon the plan, saying it places an undue burden on prison
All the inmates scheduled to die this month have launched a
series of motions in federal court in Little Rock to block the
proceedings. They argue that the rush to the death chamber
increases the chances of a botched execution.
The American Bar Association, the leading U.S. law
professionals organization, sent a letter to Hutchinson on
Tuesday, saying the expedited schedule undermines due process
and impedes adequate legal representation.
Hutchinson has said the state must act quickly because the
efficacy date for one of the chemicals in its lethal injection
mix, the sedative midazolam, expires at the end of April.
In 2014, Oklahoma was the last state to attempt two
executions on the same night.
In the first execution, a poorly secured intravenous tube
popped out, lethal-injection chemicals sprayed in the death
chamber and staff said the pressure of dual executions exposed
It did not conduct the second execution.
Oklahoma, which has put executions on hold to fix flaws, has
recommended executions be held at least a week apart to allow
staff time to review the proceedings and decompress.
(Writing by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Matthew