A new year and a new search for execution drugs | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, December 31, 2016

A new year and a new search for execution drugs

Posted By on Sat, Dec 31, 2016 at 7:30 AM

DEATH CHAMBER: Currently, drugs may not exist for its use, not to mention the obstacle of legal maneuvers.
  • DEATH CHAMBER: Currently, drugs may not exist for its use, not to mention the obstacle of legal maneuvers.
AP reported this week that the start of the year marks the expiration date for one of the three drugs used in the lethal injection process — a process not used in Arkansas since 2005.

In keeping with legally mandated secrecy, the Correction Department isn't saying much about replacement sources for the drugs of death, something reputable pharmaceutical companies are loathe to admit having a hand in supplying.  Other drugs will expire in due course, too, of course.

I am reminded that Dustin McDaniel said shortly before leaving office as attorney general in 2013 that the state should have a conversation about the "broken" death penalty law. No discussions ensued and they aren't likely to occur, given that rigid adherence to the death penalty seems to be part of Republican Party dogma.

You can go to the link above to see what I've said before about the death penalty. One point is that it would be cheaper and eliminate the emotional roller coaster of decades of appeals to put convicted killers in maximum security cells and throw away the keys. Some states and countries have done that. Here, the dance with death and the emotional torment of victims continue.

There are 35 men on Death Row in Arkansas. The oldest case, that of Roger Coulter, dates 27 years, to 1989 in Ashley County. He was charged with raping and killing the five-year-old child of a woman with whom he lived. Pending appeals rest particularly on his post-conviction claim of mental retardation, something that hadn't been raised at trial (at a time when a statute barring execution of mentally retarded didn't exist). He has been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and brothers could have testified he was repeatedly sexually abused as a child and had a history of mental illness.

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