The state government of Arkansas plans to execute eight men over a period of 10 days in April because one of the key drugs in their lethal injection protocol is set to expire at the end of the month.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson set the dates between April 17 and 27 and will require the state’s department of corrections to execute two men per day with a few days between each lethal injection.
Top row, from left, Bruce Ward, Marcel Williams, Jason McGehee and Kenneth Williams. Bottom row, Stacey Johnson, Ledell Lee, Don Davis and Jack Jones. Arkansas Corrections
“As required by law, I have set the execution dates for the eight convicted of capital murder. This is based upon the attorney general’s referral and the exhaustion of all appeals and court reviews that have been ongoing for more than a decade,” Hutchinson said in a statement, though another statement added that the executions were placed so closely together because the availability of the drugs for future lethal injections was unclear.
On March 8, Arkansas acquired the final drug needed to execute the eight inmates, under the execution protocols used by the state.
The men make up nearly a quarter of Arkansas’s death row. All eight were convicted of murders committed between 1989 and 1999, but none have taken the final walk to the execution chamber. That is because Arkansas’ capital punishment has been held up since 2005 by numerous legal challenges and the state’s consistent struggle to obtain lethal injection drugs.
Attorneys who represent the eight men persist in attempting to block the executions. Marcel Wayne Williams, one of the eight inmates, filed an application for clemency on Tuesday, citing childhood trauma — including physical and sexual abuse — as a failure of the justice system.