Death Row inmates file a second federal lawsuit to stop executions | Arkansas Blog

Death Row inmates file a second federal lawsuit to stop executions


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For the second time this week, men on Death Row in Arkansas have sued in federal court to halt the eight executions set in April.

The latest lawsuit says the compressed execution schedule has unduly shortened the inmates' clemency applications. Said a release prepared by federal public defenders:

The unnecessarily compressed scheduling of eight executions in April allowed the prisoners less notice of the time to prepare their filings, and one of the six plaintiffs was not able to file a clemency petition in time. The arbitrary scheduling meant that the State violated its requirement that clemency hearings be scheduled at least 30 days before execution – a rule designed to create a window for careful deliberation that is unavailable to these plaintiffs. The Arkansas Parole Board cut the presentation of evidence by the plaintiffs in half from the time permitted by its rules, and scheduled two hearings a day.

The claims raised in the clemency petitions filed include questions of innocence, mental illness, rehabilitation, proportionality severe childhood abuse, and other serious issues worthy of substantive consideration. As the Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief states, “Prisoner Plaintiffs Stacey Johnson, Ledell Lee, Jason McGehee, Bruce Ward, Marcel Williams, and Kenneth Williams each have powerful claims for clemency.”
Here's today's complaint. It asks for a stay of execution and a new schedule of clemency hearings with adequate time to prepare.

Yesterday, inmates raised a new federal challenge to the execution process and the potential for problems with midazolam, an anesthetic that is one of three drugs used in the executions. Gov. Asa Hutchinson has hurried the execution schedule because the supply of that drug expires at the end of April.

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