Arkansas has a new supply of a lethal injection drug that expired earlier this year, a prison spokesman said Monday, clearing the way for four double executions that will put eight men to death next month.
An Arkansas Department of Corrections spokesman said 100 vials of the lethal injection drug postassium chloride were delivered to the department March 8.
The executions are the first to be carried out by the state since 2005, but it appears that Governor Asa hutchinson was determined to make use of the execution drugs the state has on hand.
Arkansas is set to execute eight death penalty inmates in the space of 10 days in an effort to use their execution drug supplies before they expire.
No state has executed more than two men in a single month in the past 20 years and none has performed eight executions in 10 days, according to the Washington-based nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court said it wouldn't review Arkansas' lethal injection law, which paved the way for the executions to resume.
Graves declined to release the source of the drug, citing secrecy provisions in the 2015 law establishing the three-drug protocol.
Attorneys for the inmates have asked a Pulaski County circuit judge to find the state's lethal injection law and the three-drug protocol unconstitutional. Then vecuronium bromide is provided to stop the inmate's breathing, followed by potassium chloride to stop the heart. In the meantime, lawyers representing death row inmates are trying to stop Arkansas from using the midazolam at all, saying that the drug is an ineffective sedative that leaves an inmate vulnerable to feeling intense pain as they die. The latter drug is meant to render the inmate unconscious before the other two chemicals are administered to paralyze the lungs and stop the heart. Arkansas has had multiple executions in the past, including triple executions in 1994 and 1997.