Arkansas is set to modify its lethal injection procedure. Noel Oman reports, "Arkansas to proceed with executions," in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
The state will resume executing death-row inmates by lethal injection after making protocol changes to better conform with a recent U. S. Supreme Court decision that upheld the procedure.
Gov. Mike Beebe made the decision Thursday after conferring with Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, said Matt DeCample, a spokesman for Beebe.
“This morning he authorized the [Arkansas Department of Correction ], at the recommendation of the attorney general, to make a few changes in the protocol, and then the attorney general, at his discretion, will begin sending letters on inmates who are basically cleared of legal action, and the executions can proceed,” DeCample said.
Beebe’s decision comes a little more than two weeks after the nation’s high court upheld the lethal-injection method used to administer the death penalty. The high court’s ruling cleared the way for dissolving a sevenmonth moratorium on executions nationwide.
Dina Tyler, a spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Correction, said the changes in the protocol are minor.
“It’s just putting our practice on paper,” she said. “It will say in the policy that the members of the IV team will have at least two years of medical experience. The members do have two years, but we didn’t have that written down. It also will say the drugs will be mixed according to the manufacturer’s directions. They already are, but this will just say it on paper.” Justin Allen, the chief deputy attorney general, declined to discuss the specifics of the protocol until they are final but said they represented a “couple of small suggestions” McDaniel recommended “based on our reading of the Supreme Court case.”
Little Rock's KTHV-TV has, "Gov. Beebe Says Arkansas Executions Will Proceed."
McDaniel says, "The important thing we believe has to be done is to ensure that our lethal injection protocol meets or exceeds all the guidelines that have been laid out by the Supreme Court in the Kentucky case."
McDaniel will offer a few changes to the procedure. A spokesperson for the Department of Corrections says they're nothing major, just putting a few more things in writing, like how experienced the medical staff is and how the lethal chemicals are mixed.
Some in Arkansas are still fighting the death penalty. One group called Arkansas Death Penalty Moratorium Campaign Committee is collecting signatures to take to the Governor asking him to put a moratorium on the death penalty.
But Beebe says, "That's not my job to abolish the death penalty that's up to the voters of Arkansas to the people so we will follow the law."
The Attorney General says he plans to send death warrants to the Governor within the next thirty days.
In Mississippi, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger has, "Hood still pursuing execution."
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood on Thursday continued seeking the execution of convicted killer Earl Wesley Berry by saying the state's lethal injection method is "substantially similar" to one recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
To further his point, Hood used testimony from a key prison official who said the two executions he's overseen since 2005 have been carried out "without incident." The state also gave more details about execution protocol.
Berry's attorney, James Craig, argued the policy "is not as detailed or mandatory" as Kentucky's, deemed acceptable by the U.S. Supreme Court.
"The Constitution does not require Earl Berry to hope that the prison officials will execute him properly," Craig said. "He is entitled to policies and procedures that reduce the risk of him being suffocated to death but paralyzed and unable to stop the torture."
The state Supreme Court has not made a ruling on the legal wrangling nor Hood's request to set an execution date on or before Monday, Berry's 49th birthday. But as the debate lingers, the state's top corrections official said he's prepared to fulfill Hood's request.
The Fort Mill Times reports, "State argues lethal injection method is constitutional."
Berry's attorneys have asked the Mississippi Supreme Court to block the execution, saying the state's method is different.
"Mississippi's lethal injection creates a substantial risk of serious harm in violation of the Eighth Amendment because there are no safeguards such as those that Kentucky has in place," Berry's attorneys argued in court papers filed Wednesday.
The attorney general's office on Thursday filed a 105-page response.
"The state would assert that the protocol and practice and procedures used in conducting an execution in Mississippi are substantially similar to those found in Kentucky," Hood's office argued.
The Mississippi court has not ruled on the motions.
In Virginia, the Richmond Times-Dispatch has, "Va. seeks to lift stay of execution."
irginia authorities want the U.S. Supreme Court to lift the stay of execution it granted Christopher Scott Emmett last year shortly before he was to die by lethal injection.
Emmett was spared execution on Oct. 17 while the justices considered a challenge to Kentucky's lethal-injection procedures. Kentucky uses the same three drugs as other states, including Virginia.
Last month the divided court allowed lethal injections to resume, but also opened the door to more lethal-injection challenges. Emmett has such a case pending in the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals set to be argued May 14.