LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Department of Correction said Monday it now has the drugs it needs to carry out eight scheduled executions next month.
Spokesman Solomon Graves said the agency has acquired a new supply of potassium chloride, one of three drugs the state intends to use for lethal injections. The department’s previous supply of the drug expired Jan. 1 of this year, but the new supply will not expire until the end of August 2018, he said.
Graves said a state law prohibits him from identifying the manufacturer and the seller of the drug.
Last month, Gov. Asa Hutchinson scheduled executions for eight condemned inmates over a 10-day period in April, despite the state’s lack of a usable supply of potassium chloride at the time. J.R. Davis, spokesman for the governor, said Monday, “The governor has always maintained confidence in the ADC’s ability to procure the expired drug needed.”
The state is seeking to carry out the executions before its supply of the sedative midazolam expires at the end of April.
Hutchinson set the execution dates after the U.S. Supreme Court last month declined to hear the inmates’ appeal of an Arkansas Supreme Court ruling that upheld Arkansas’ lethal-injection law. The inmates argued that keeping the sources of execution drugs secret is unconstitutional and that the state’s planned method of execution could subject them to cruel and unusual punishment.
Jeff Rosenzweig, an attorney for the inmates, said Monday he planned to file court papers seeking information about the manufacturers and suppliers of the state’s execution drugs.
“This is being done in the name of the people, the citizens of the state of Arkansas, and the citizens have a right to know what entity is providing these drugs,” he said.
Rosenzweig previously filed an amended complaint on behalf of the inmates seeking to block the executions. He said Monday he believes the use of midazolam in executions “is going to lead to a major disaster.”
Executions in Oklahoma, Ohio and Arizona have been botched when inmates who were given the drug appeared not to be fully sedated during the procedure.
No state in modern times has carried out as many executions in as short a time frame as Arkansas is planning to do.
“I think that the assembly-line aspect of killing eight people in a week and a half is appalling,” Rosenzweig said Monday.
The Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty said in a statement earlier this month, “This planned mass execution is grotesque and unprecedented.”
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said in a statement earlier this month that carrying out the executions would “finally bring closure to the victims’ families and … honor the verdicts and sentences imposed by juries decades ago.”
Hutchinson has set execution dates of April 17 for Don William Davis and Bruce Earl Ward, April 20 for Stacey Eugene Johnson and Ledelle Lee, April 24 for Jack Harold Jones and Marcel W. Williams, and April 27 for Jason F. McGehee and Kenneth D. Williams.