Initially, the state of Arkansas planned to execute 8 convicted murders on death row over the course of two weeks. This would be the most executions in the history of the United States.
Today, the Arkansas Supreme Court halted the executions of two men, Don Davis and Bruce Ward, that were scheduled for tonight. This stay was granted on the concern that the inmates were denied access to independent mental health experts. The U.S. high court will hold an oral argument on this April 24th.
This decision came to the Arkansas Supreme Court after U.S. federal Judge Kristin Baker blocked it on the grounds that using the drug would be unconstitutional.
She stated, “execution protocol interferes with the plaintiffs’ right of access to the courts.”
Pharmaceutical companies supported Baker’s decision and in fact urged Baker to ensure that Arkansas does not use their sedative. The Washington Post stated McKesson, acting as a distributor, had sold one of its products to the Arkansas Department of Corrections “in direct violation of our policy.” Pfizer said it had twice asked Arkansas to return the drugs and had considered legal action.”
Whether pharmaceutical companies are speaking out to save their own face or avoid a lawsuit is unknown, but there is something to be said about the fact the very people who sell these drugs believe its use is inappropriate.
This drug that is causing so many legal issues is called Midazolam. In a federal court hearing, prison officials testified saying that “midazolam [is] a sedative that is intended to mask the effects of drugs that will shut down the inmates’ lungs and hearts. The inmates say midazolam is unsuitable because it is not a painkiller and could subject them to a cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the U.S. Constitution.”
However, despite the national embarrassment this has brought the state of Arkansas and the plethora of evidence that shows that this act would not only be unconstitutional and inhumane, the Attorney General, Leslie Rutledge, and Governor Asa Hutchinson are persistent in their view that there must be blood.
In fact, Leslie Rutledge recently tweeted that she would be appealing the Supreme Court’s decision in hopes that she will get either Davis or Ward executed tonight.
The World is watching Arkansas right now. They have the choice to choose life and humanity or vengeance and cruelty. Stay tuned as we await their choice.