UPDATE: two executed today (25 April)
‘Execution by assembly line’
The death penalty saga in Arkansas continues with a blizzard of legal writs and appeals to the Supreme Court. The heart of the matter was the desire of the Governor, Asa Hutchinson, to execute eight inmates before the drugs run out. Ledell Lee was executed last Thursday. States with the death penalty are finding it harder to obtain the medication to carry out the executions. This is partly due to the activities of anti-death penalty groups, waning support for the penalty with 49% of Americans in favour, and the refusal by drug companies to supply them. The EU has banned European firms from exporting them. Indeed, two firms who have supplied drugs – in particular Midazolam – have filed claims against its use on the basis that they were not supplied for that purpose. These claims have been rejected.
A recent appeal to the Supreme Court was rejected 5 – 4 and key was the vote by the newly appointed Justice Gorsuch. He was one of President Trump’s appointments.
One of the appeals was to re-examine crime scene materials using modern DNA techniques. These should prove conclusively either way whether the defendants were guilty or otherwise. These claims were denied which seems bizarre in the extreme when someone’s life is at stake. Ledell Lee has now been executed so it is too late for him. The inadequate nature of trials which lead to the use of the death penalty is describe in Clive Stafford Smith’s book Injustice. The gruesome process of the death penalty is laid bare in the State of California’s procedure and protocol summarised here.
Arkansa now wants to execute two on the same day which is the first time that will have happened since 1970 in Texas.
This is a fast moving story and no doubt this item will be updated soon.
Reuters; BBC; Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Time; Arkansas Times; Death Penalty Information Center
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