Arkansas inmates ask judge to halt 4 double executions

2017-03-28 21:05
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Little Rock - The eight inmates facing lethal injection in Arkansas next month asked a federal judge on Monday to block the state's unprecedented plan to conduct four days of double executions over a 10-day period.

Attorneys for the inmates sought a preliminary injunction to halt the executions, which are scheduled to begin April 17, arguing that the use of the controversial sedative midazolam and the rushed schedule violates their clients' constitutional rights.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson last month scheduled the executions to occur before the state's supply of midazolam expires at the end of April.

"The rushed schedule appreciably increases the risk of harm to plaintiffs, falls far outside the bounds of modern penological practice, and disrespects the plaintiffs' fundamental dignity - defects that all run against the Eighth Amendment's protections," the inmates argued in a court filing.

Arkansas hasn't executed an inmate since 2005 because of court challenges and difficulty obtaining lethal injection drugs. The state hasn't carried out a double execution since 1999.

While Texas has executed eight people in a month - twice in 1997 - no state in the modern era has executed that many prisoners in 10 days.

A separate challenge against Arkansas' lethal injection law - which keeps the source of the state's lethal injection drugs secret - is pending in Pulaski County Circuit Court. The inmates have also asked the US Supreme Court to reconsider its decision to not weigh in on a state court ruling upholding the law's constitutionality.

Five of the inmates have also asked the state Parole Board to recommend Hutchinson spare their lives.

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