"Ark. governor to hold off on executions," is the AP report filed by Jeannie Nuss, via the Baxter Bulletin.
Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe said Tuesday he doesn’t have any immediate plans to schedule executions for seven death row inmates, even though the attorney general has asked him to do so.
The governor’s decision to hold off on setting execution dates comes as the Department of Correction plans to rewrite its lethal injection protocol and as nine death row inmates challenge the state’s new execution law in court, governor’s spokesman Matt DeCample said.
“We have to be in a place where we’re confident to proceed, and when you now have an active court challenge over the statute and the uncertainty around the protocol, we’re not in that position right now,” DeCample said.
The Associated Press first reported Monday that the Department of Correction planned to rewrite its lethal injection procedure to include a different drug. That news came after the state last month said it lost its account with a pharmaceutical company that previously supplied it with chemicals.
It’s not clear when the revised protocol will be complete, but the expected shift in procedure follows changes in the past year at the state Capitol and the Arkansas Supreme Court.
"Beebe won’t set execution dates for now," is the Arkansas News Bureau post.
Gov. Mike Beebe has decided to hold off on setting execution dates because of litigation over Arkansas’ execution law and problems with its death penalty protocol, a spokesman for the governor said Tuesday.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel last month asked Beebe to set execution dates for seven condemned killers after the state Supreme Court declared stays that had been granted to six of them from a previous case challenging Arkansas’ old lethal-injection procedure were no longer in effect.
Beebe spokesman Matt DeCample said Tuesday that a legal challenge of a new execution law adopted this year was a factor in the governor’s decision to defer setting executions dates, along with problems with the procedure for actually carrying out the death penalty.
“The drug that we acquired, the manufacturer has made clear they don’t want used for executions,” DeCample said, “and there is strong uncertainty whether we would even be able to use the drugs we have now before they expire, just due to the legal entanglements.”
New Jersey-based West-Ward Pharmaceuticals last month closed its account with the Arkansas Department of Correction after learning that the state planned to use drugs it had purchased from the company for executions. The department had bought 25 vials of phenobarbital, an anti-seizure drug, and 25 vials of lorazepam, a sedative, from the company in April.
A Department of Correction spokeswoman said Monday that because of the company’s action, the agency will rewrite its lethal-injection protocol and look at using other drugs — of the same class — in executions.