Today, 23 former corrections officials and administrators urged Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas to reconsider his plan to execute eight prisoners at the unprecedented rate of two-per-day on four execution days over a ten-day period.
Hailing from 16 states as well as federal jurisdictions, the former corrections officials wrote to the Governor out of concern for the prison officials and staff who will be charged with carrying out the executions. Citing their "first-hand and unique experience with the death penalty," the signatories describe the "psychological challenges" involved in conducting executions, and the "severe toll on corrections officers' wellbeing."
The former corrections officials also discuss the pressure of an unnecessarily compressed execution schedule and the concern that "the burden of such a condensed schedule will increase the chance of an error occurring," noting that the "execution of a prisoner is a complex and difficult process with little margin for error."
Governor Hutchinson stated that the reason for the rapid execution schedule is that the state's supply of the sedative midazolam will expire at the end of April. Arkansas has not conducted an execution since 2005. While expressing respect for and confidence in staff of the Arkansas Department of Correction, the letter describes a scheduled double execution that led to a botched execution in Oklahoma:
"[A]fter the 2014 execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma, during which the medical team struggled to insert an IV (which eventually became dislodged, causing officials to halt the procedure before all the drugs had been administered), the state Department of Public Safety found that having two executions scheduled for the same night contributed to increased stress on staff-even in a state that had already carried out several executions that same year. The Department subsequently recommended scheduling no more than one execution per seven-day period. "
The former corrections officials state: "A state's interest in justice and finality are not served by a botched execution."
The letter can be accessed here: http://bit.ly/2nsh9UB