Federal Judge Issues Order to Halt Arkansas Executions

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Federal Judge Kristine Baker issued an order Saturday, April 15, to halt Arkansas' scheduled death row inmate executions. 

Baker's 101- page order, which you can read here, identifies Eighth Amendment concerns raised by the inmates and the Arkansas Department of Correction viewing policy for the inmates' attorneys as reasons for her decision. 

The Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution bars cruel and unusual punishment. The death row inmates have alleged that Arkansas' lethal injection protocol does not ensure that those Eighth Amendment rights would not be violated. 

The judge's order also included facts based on testimony given by ADC staff that seem to have similarities to allegations made by a drug company when it requested a temporary restraining order for its drug to not be used in the Arkansas executions. 

Judge Wendell Griffen granted the temporary restraining order, based on the company's allegations that ADC misled a sales representative to acquire the drug in violation of the company's policy barring sale of drugs for use in lethal injections. 

Baker has set a deadline of noon for the state to file modifications to its viewing policy to address one of the issues cited in her order. It's unclear how the state and ADC might address the Eighth Amendment concerns. 

We have reached out to the office of Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, who is representing the state. A spokesperson provided the following statement: 

“It is unfortunate that a U.S. District Judge has chosen to side with the convicted prisoners in one of their many last-minute attempts to delay justice. This decision is significantly out of step with precedent from the Eighth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court. Attorney General Rutledge plans to immediately appeal to the Eighth Circuit and ask that today’s injunction imposed by the district court be lifted.”

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