"Assembly line of death": Arkansas is going to execute 8 people over an 11-day stretch

Arkansas is in a rush to execute inmates because of an expiring batch of its lethal injection drug midazolam

By Matthew Rozsa
April 4, 2017 8:50PM (UTC)
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(AP/Ric Feld)

In 2015, executions throughout the world produced the highest body count in a quarter century — and the United States ranked fifth on the list of nations in terms of executions. Now, one American state seems to be trying to add another dubious number to America's distinctions when it comes to capital punishment. Starting on April 17, Arkansas is scheduled to execute 11 people in eight days.

The executions will occur in pairs (two men being put to death each day) on April 17, April 20, April 24, and April 27, according to The Los Angeles Times. It is the first time anyone in Arkansas has been executed since 2005, as well as the first time that so many people have been executed in such a short period of time since the Supreme Court brought back the death penalty in 1976. The only state to come close is Texas, which executed eight people in May and June 1997.


“This is just a ghastly assembly line of death,” Rita Sklar, executive director of the Arkansas ACLU, told the L.A. Times. “It does not comport with human decency.”


Although the convicts are responsible for murdering 11 people, the reason for the hurried series of executions is that the state's supply of midazolam — which is used as an anasthetic for lethal injections - expires on April 30. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge told Hutchinson that the convicts — four of whom are white and four of whom are black — had used up their legal challenges.


In a statement to the Associated Press, Gov. Asa Hutchinson explained that "this action is necessary to fulfill the requirement of the law, but it is also important to bring closure to the victims’ families who have lived with the court appeals and uncertainty for a very long time."

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Arkansas Capital Punishment Death Penalty