Arkansas to resume executions after Supreme Court clears way -attorney general

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By Steve Barnes | LITTLE ROCK, Ark.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. Arkansas, which has not put an
inmate to death in more than a decade, plans to schedule
executions after the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way on
Tuesday for it to resume capital punishment, the state’s
attorney general said.

Arkansas has not executed an inmate since 2005 and is one of
several states that have had a de facto halt on executions due
to legal fights and problems in procuring lethal injection drugs
after a sales ban by major pharmaceutical makers.

There are 34 men on Arkansas’ death row, prison officials
said.

The Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of nine death
row inmates who challenged a state law forbidding disclosure of
the companies supplying drugs used in lethal injections,
Arkansas’ method of capital punishment.

The state’s Supreme Court had earlier upheld the statute.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said she would
immediately forward the high court’s action to the state Supreme
Court for certification, allowing Governor Asa Hutchinson to set
execution dates. Both Rutledge and Hutchinson are Republicans.

“Today’s decision from the nation’s high court ends this
case, which means that executions can move forward in Arkansas,
and families of the victims will see justice carried out for
those who committed heinous crimes against their loved ones,”
Rutledge said in a statement.

The number of U.S. executions fell to a quarter-century low
in 2016 as new death sentences plummeted, according to a study
by the Death Penalty Information Center, a non-profit monitoring
agency.

A lawyer for the Arkansas death row inmates said he was
disappointed in the decision.

“We’re thinking through our options, but obviously they are
not very bright,” Jeff Rosenzweig of Little Rock said in an
interview.

When capital punishment in Arkansas might resume was
uncertain, as the state’s stock of potassium chloride, one of
the drugs used in executions, expired on Jan. 1, officials said.

“Since ‘use by’ date on one of the drugs has expired, it
will be necessary for the Department of Correction to make the
acquisition,” Governor Hutchinson said in a statement. (Additional reporting by Jon Herskovitz)



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