Death Row inmates ask to delay executions; cite state secrecy on drugs | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Death Row inmates ask to delay executions; cite state secrecy on drugs

Posted By on Tue, Sep 29, 2015 at 2:38 PM

As expected, Death Row inmates have asked for a halt to resumption of executions by lethal injection in Arkansas because the state has refused to provide information about the drugs it has obtained for the killing.

Attorney Jeff Rosenzweig argues that the secrecy — mandated by a new state law — violates a previous agreement by the state. The Associated Press has reported that companies that are the likely sources of the drugs have objected to their use in executions.

As it stands, executions are to resume Oct. 21. 

The lawsuit was filed late Monday in Pulaski Circuit Court on behalf of eight inmates whose execution dates were set recently by Gov. Asa Hutchinson. It challenges the state secrecy law as unconstitutional because it violates the contract the state had with inmates on future use of drugs. The case also asserts a First Amendment violation by restricting access to information. It says further that, without knowledge of the drugs, it's possible the execution will amount to cruel and unusual punishment, particularly if a paralytic drug is used, as expected. It says, too, that the law delegates too much power to the executive branch on execution procedures.

The case was assigned to Judge Wendell Griffen. It is an addition to pending litigation that had a circuitous passage in state and federal court, all detailed in the lawsuit at the link. The lawsuit delves deeply into criticism of the three-drug protocol and quality of drugs supplied.

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