US state rushes to execute 7 inmates

Indo Asian News Service

Washington, April 8 (IANS) Arkansas is rushing to execute seven death row inmates in 11 days this month before the US states lethal drugs used in injections expire, the media reported.

Arkansas officials blame the hurried execution schedule on the drug shortage, which has sent states scrambling for replacement chemicals and, in some cases, has caused them to contemplate other methods of execution, The Washington Post reported on Friday.

These executions would be the first in Arkansas in 12 years.

Governor Asa Hutchinson has admitted to feeling uneasy about being caught between needing to schedule them and the looming expiration of the state's stock of midazolam, a controversial sedative that will be one of three drugs used in the lethal injections.

"It's not my choice," Hutchinson told the media on Friday.

"I would love to have those extended over a period of multiple months and years, but that's not the circumstances that I find myself in."

The state's midazolam supply is set to expire at the end of April, according to officials.

"It is uncertain as to whether another drug can be obtained," the Governor added.

The seven inmates still facing execution all were convicted of capital murder. They all received their sentences by the year 2000.

Drug manufacturers are required by law to put an expiration date on drugs in the US, and after that date they cannot guarantee the drug's effectiveness or safety, reports The Washington Post.

Arkansas acquired its midazolam in 2015, according to state documents.

The drug prompted controversy after it was used in a bungled execution in Oklahoma and in lethal injections that were prolonged and included inmates gasping for breath in Ohio, Arizona and in Alabama.

Lethal injection remains the US' primary method of execution, but due to the shortage, states have also been looking to other methods.

Utah, Tennessee and Oklahoma added or broadened their abilities to use a firing squad, electric chair or nitrogen gas.

--IANS

ksk/vm