New Yorker: Why the rush on Arkansas executions? And questions for the governor. | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, April 13, 2017

New Yorker: Why the rush on Arkansas executions? And questions for the governor.

Posted By on Thu, Apr 13, 2017 at 8:03 AM


The New Yorker joins a long list
of prestigious publications around the world raising questions about the rush by Arkansas to execute seven people over a 240-hour period beginning Monday. (The number originally had been eight.)

The New Yorker article says Gov. Asa Hutchinson hasn't yet fully explained the "circumstances" that prompted the speedy schedule. He might be asked that today in a one-hour session he's scheduled with local reporters, his only press availability before the executions begin. He has said the difficulty of obtaining one hotly controversial drug, the sedative midazolam, entered into the schedule because of the expiration of a current supply at the end of this month.

Today's meeting with Hutchinson will provide some insight into his comfort with the proceeding. He's been conscious of state image in some other legislative undertakings (standing in the way of a "bathroom bill," for example.) He's also said he hopes to establish a legacy similar to that of former Republican Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller. Not likely in this area. Rockefeller commuted every person on Death Row in a final act as governor, saying his faith would not allow him to participate in taking a life.

From the New Yorker:

Meanwhile, all eyes remain on Hutchinson—the only official with the power to grant these inmates clemency. I e-mailed Julie Vandiver to ask her to explain the significance of Arkansas’s long debate about lethal injection and capital punishment. She replied, “When the state undertakes the task of killing a person, there are multiple ways that it can go horribly wrong. Over and over, Arkansas officials have failed to treat this incredibly complex enterprise with appropriate gravity.”

A SIDE NOTE: The state Correction Department continues to function too much in the dark and secretive world of the old days. There isn't a reason in the world reporters covering the execution shouldn't be allowed to take cell phones into the media holding room, well removed from the death chamber and any actors in the process. It simply makes no sense. The department DID relent in allowing cameras and recorders. It will be a spectacle worthy of old "Front Page"-style movies, with world reporters fighting for phones to relay news of the progress of the state killing.

ALSO: Among other observations planned for execution week:

Trinity Episcopal Cathedral will hold a special prayer service at 8 p.m. on Easter Sunday, the eve of the planned state killings, for their victims and families and for the executioners.

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