Arkansas, which plans to execute eight inmates over 10 days next month, is struggling to overcome a logistical problem to carry that out: There are not enough people who want to watch them die.
A state law requires that at least six people witness an execution to ensure that the state’s death-penalty laws are properly followed. But finding that many volunteer witnesses to cover all of the scheduled executions has proved difficult, prompting the director at the Department of Correction to take the extraordinary step of personally seeking volunteers.
A department spokesman declined to say whom the director, Wendy Kelley, has approached for help, but she has extended invitations at least to members of the Little Rock Rotary Club, according to news reports. Kelley made the request, which the members initially thought was a joke, after delivering a keynote address Tuesday.
“You seem to be a group that does not have felony backgrounds and are over 21,” Kelley told the Rotarians, according to The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “So if you’re interested in serving in that area, in this serious role, just call my office.”
Gov. Asa Hutchinson last month scheduled the executions of eight men — four black and four white, and all convicted of murder — from April 17-27. Two men will be executed on each of four execution dates.
The Death Penalty Information Center, a Washington, D.C.-based group that provides analysis and information on issues concerning capital punishment, says on its website that no other state has conducted as many as eight executions in a month since capital punishment resumed in the United States in 1977.
The dates were placed so closely together because of another logistical issue: Arkansas’ supply of midazolam, a sedative used in a three-drug injection method, has an expiration date at the end of April.
(ed note: The thought of using expired medications for an execution: DOA)
Source: The Seattle Times 25 March 2017