Can we get a witness? Arkansas seeks volunteers to watch eight executions, while death penalty opponents continue their fight | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Can we get a witness? Arkansas seeks volunteers to watch eight executions, while death penalty opponents continue their fight

Posted By on Wed, Mar 22, 2017 at 7:53 AM

click to enlarge SEEKING EXECUTION WITNESS VOLUNTEERS: Correction Department Director Wendy Kelley.
  • SEEKING EXECUTION WITNESS VOLUNTEERS: Correction Department Director Wendy Kelley.
The Arkansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty is undeterred by the cold reception a House committee Tuesday gave bills to abolish or limit the death penalty.

It has scheduled two events, in addition to encouraging peaceful demonstrations in front of the Governor's Mansion every evening until the round of eight executions scheduled over 10 days by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

* March 30 - Town hall on Historic Mass Execution : The Wrong Side of History,  6 p.m., UALR William H. Bowen Law School- Friday Courtroom. Sponsored by the Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, The Black Law Students Association, The Hispanic Law Students Association, ACLU Bowen Law School Chapter, and Young Democrats of Bowen Law School.

* April 14 (GOOD FRIDAY), 1:30 p.m. - Arkansas Rally Against Historic Mass Execution – Arkansas State Capitol.

Speaking, too, of the death penalty: A fascinating article by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Jeannie Roberts on Correction Department Director Wendy Kelley's appearance before the downtown Little Rock Rotary Club. It seems the state is so far short of the required minimum of six citizen witnesses to watch the four double-header executions. She asked for volunteers. Roberts' interviews at the club meeting didn't turn up anyone thirsting for the opportunity.

A funeral director remarked to Roberts on the toll of witnessing a death. I think it safe to say you can magnify that toll for those who actually participate in the process. That has been reported in other states, though little mentioned in Arkansas's rush to get the killings done on account of concerns that the state might run out of a problematic drug, midazolam. Its efficacy in providing a constitutional execution — that is, free of cruel punishment — has come under attack.

Perhaps legislators who voted for the death penalty should step up to fill the witness seats for the octuple-header — six at each one.

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