death penalty

Arkansas Death Chamber Lethal Injection
Arkansas Department of Correction

The state Senate on Monday easily approved a bill that would further veil the confidentiality of the lethal drugs used to execute Arkansas inmates on death row.

Under Senate Bill 464 by Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, the legislature would give the state Department of Corrections broad powers to conceal the state’s method of capital punishment and ability to acquire the drugs necessary for lethal injection. The bill was approved by a vote of 25-9 strictly along party lines with one lawmaker, Sen. Jonathan Dismang, R-Searcy, voting present.

Sarah Kellogg / KUAR

A bill that would bar Arkansas prosecutors from seeking the death penalty for those convicted of a crime and with a diagnosed serious mental illness failed in the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

According to the legislation, qualifying medical conditions would include symptoms of delusions, hallucinations, extremely disorganized thinking, and mania.

Leslie Rutledge
Governor's Office / You Tube

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge says she will likely ask the governor to set an execution date for a convicted killer after a ruling by the state Supreme Court.

On Thursday the high court said two inmates – who came within hours of being executed last year – were not entitled to special assistance from mental health professionals during their trials.

Bruce Ward and Don Davis won last minute stays after claiming independent psychiatrists should have been available to help develop trial strategies.

One of the three drugs Arkansas uses in its death chamber is about to expire, and unless the state can find a new supply it won't be able to execute three men with 11th-hour appeals pending at the state Supreme Court.

Arkansas rushed to execute eight men over 11 days last year, before 160 vials of a sedative expired. Ultimately, Arkansas put four men to death over eight days last April.

The state's supply of vecuronium bromide expires Thursday. It stops the inmates' breathing while a third drug used stops their hearts.

Office of the Governor

35 men on Arkansas’s death row are now closer than anyone in the state has been in years to receiving a lethal injection. Governor Asa Hutchinson told reporters on Thursday he could soon begin scheduling execution dates. 

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson says the state is reviewing drug options for lethal injections following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling Monday morning.

The court ruled 5-4 to allow Oklahoma to continue to use Midazolam, a sedative that inmates had argued may not prevent pain in lethal injections because it is not a barbiturate.

Hutchinson spoke to press at the Capitol shortly after the ruling.