Little Rock, Arkansas. In a controversial decision, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has given orders that 7 inmates on death row in his state, be executed on a sped up timeline to accommodate the expiration dates of the drugs he intends to use in killing the inmates.
The executions have drawn international attention and have been condemned by rights groups as an “assembly line of death” and a violation of the US legal process. Civil rights and inmate rights organizations are filing a number of court motions in desperate, last ditch attempts to stop the executions planned over an 11 day period to accomodate the expiration dates of the drugs being used.
On Thursday, two pharmaceutical manufacturers asked a federal judge to bar the state of Arkansas from using their drugs. If the motion is granted, the State would have to reschedule yet again, the inmates deaths.
Many would argue that and of itself, is cruel and unusual punishment. Something prohibited explicitly in the US Constitution under the 8th Amendment which states, “The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the federal government from imposing cruel and unusual punishment for federal crimes. The amendment states, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.”
The unprecedented pace is due to one of the drugs expiring later this month. Midazolam which is one part of the three-drug lethal injection is set to expire at the end of April, and has been criticised as contributing to several botched executions in other states.
Drug companies Fresenius Kabi USA and West-Ward Pharmaceuticals filed a motion as part of the federal lawsuit by the condemned inmates on Thursday, claiming that the drugs were secured in an improper manner, and could affect their ability to sell in Europe. This may leave the State of Arkansas financially liable for damages to the drug companies from loss of revenue in Europe.