Arkansas is expediting the executions of 8 death row inmates before the clock runs out on the medications used in the lethal execution procedures. The 8 condemned men will all be executed over a 10 day period in April.
All eight men -- four black and four white -- are convicted murderers who have waited on death row for at least 15 years.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson isn't thrilled that the executions will take place over a 10 day period, but he signed the death warrants anyway.
“I would love to have those extended over a period of multiple months and years, but that’s not the circumstances that I find myself in,” he said in a statement.
Hutchinson added that the executions are necessary to bring closure to the families.
At issue is the expiration dates on the 3 main medications used in the lethal injection procedures. Time is running out on the medications' availability. The state's contracts with anonymous pharmaceuticals are set to expire.
Midazalam, a sedative that puts the condemned inmates to sleep, is set to expire at the end of April. Vecuronium Bromide, a paralytic agent that paralyzes the muscles and stops respirations, is expected to expire on March 1, 2018.
The final drug is Potassium Chloride, an electrolyte normally present in the bloodstream that regulates the heartbeat. Too much Potassium introduced into the bloodstream will stop the heart immediately. The supplier's contract for Potassium expired in January, but Gov. Hutchinson says he is confident the state can find another supplier soon.
“It is uncertain as to whether another drug can be obtained,” Hutchinson said in the statement, “and the families of the victims do not need to live with continued uncertainty after decades of review.”
Critics of lethal injections procedures complain that some of the inmates can feel pain before they die. But Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is unimpressed.
In an interview last year, she said, "These are sentences that have been given to these individuals by juries, and these are sentences that should be carried out… and to see that justice is carried out, and to give these families closure."