The United States Supreme Court has denied the state of Arkansas the right to execute two prisoners out of 8 slated to be put to death this month. This decision was made before the state’s lethal injection drugs expire. These would be the state’s first executions in 12 years, since Eric Nance in 2005.
The Supreme upheld the Arkansas Supreme Court’s decision to stay the executions. The Arkansas court granted the stay after inmates and advocacy groups appealed for multiple reasons–from questions about the rapid timetable of these executions to concerns about the use of the lethal injection drug midazolam, which has caused botched executions in Ohio, Arizona, and Alabama, according to The Washington Post.
In addition, lawyers for Don Davis and Bruce Ward, who were spared from execution on Monday, also raised questions about the mental competency of their clients.
The inmates are all convicted murderers and the Arkansas attorney general and governor are committed to seeing these executions through.
Governor Asa Hutchinson remarked, “We will continue to fight back on last minute appeals and efforts to block justice for the victims’ families.”
The United States has reached a 25 year low in death penalty executions, as more questions are raised about its inhumanity and its disproportionate application across race. Some drug companies and the medical community have stepped in to prevent the use of certain drugs to cause death to inmates, claiming the use of drugs to end life is completely counter to their purposes.
In addition, the United States’ history of mass incarceration and violence against black people make the death penalty at the very least a questionable source of justice in the hands of the state, as African Americans are systematically discriminated against in the criminal justice system.
Looking ahead, these attempts at rushed executions in Arkansas are inhumane. The death penalty is not a source of justice and speeding up the process will likely increase error, harming all involved, both the inmates as well as those who administer the drugs. It is past time to stop this practice and consider more restorative forms of justice.
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