LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Latest on Arkansas’ plan to execute eight inmates in a two-week span later this month (all times local):
Arkansas’ parole board didn’t announce a decision on clemency requests by two condemned inmates set to die during an unprecedented stretch of executions set for later this month.
The panel had said it would release its recommendations Tuesday for the pair, but the panel’s chairman was in federal court for a hearing on whether the board gave inmates enough of its time.
Six of the eight inmates set to die between April 17 and April 27 asked for clemency. Board chairman John Felts said he felt it was more important to give the inmates as much time as possible to prepare their requests, so he shortened the 30-day window for the governor to contemplate the board’s recommendation.
Two inmates didn’t seek mercy.
The head of Arkansas’ parole board says that cutting the time set aside for Gov. Asa Hutchinson to review clemency requests was the best option after Hutchinson scheduled eight executions in a 10-day period this month.
Arkansas is trying to use up a key execution drug that expires April 30. Six inmates are in federal court, saying attempts to save their lives are being hampered because the state won’t allow a “significant and individualized” review of their cases before their executions.
Parole Board Chairman John Felts testified Tuesday that the panel had the option of giving the inmates, their victims’ families or prosecutors less time to weigh in. He said he spoke with someone at the governor’s office, who gave him permission to cut the review time set aside under the law. He did not identify the person with whom he spoke.
Felts said the board’s policy allows him to make decisions “in the interest of justice,” including changing the clemency timetable.
Six of the eight Arkansas inmates scheduled to die this month want a judge to delay their executions so they can seek a deeper review of their clemency requests.
A federal court hearing is scheduled Tuesday on the inmates’ attempt to delay the executions. The state said in court papers filed Monday that a delay would effectively halt the executions because a key lethal drug expires April 30.
The inmates say the state Parole Board is obligated to provide a “significant and individualized” review of clemency requests, but that Arkansas’ setting a “frantic pace” for executions prevents it from doing so.
Arkansas intends to execute eight prisoners in a 10-day period starting April 17.
Arkansas officials say their plans for eight executions in a 10-day period will fall through if a federal judge gives death row inmates more time to prepare clemency requests.
A judge on Tuesday will consider the inmates’ request for additional time. Lawyers for the state said Monday the prisoners know that the state’s supply of a key sedative expires April 30 and that it would be “impossible” to execute the prisoners because “Arkansas has no source of midazolam” beyond that already in stock.
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