Arkansas governor sets execution dates for 8 inmates

Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Correction via Arkansas Online. Kenneth Williams, Jack Jones Jr., Marcell Williams, Bruce Earl Ward, and (bottom row, from left) Don Davis, Stacey Johnson, Jason McGehee and Ledelle Lee.

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Monday set execution dates for eight inmates in an attempt to resume the death penalty after a nearly 12-year hiatus, even though the state lacks one of three drugs needed to put the men to death.

The Republican governor signed a proclamation scheduling executions for the following eight inmates:

  • Kenneth Williams – April 27, 2017
  • Bruce Ward – April 17, 2017
  • Stacey Johnson – April 20, 2017
  • Don Williamson Davis – April 17, 2017
  • Ledell Lee – April 20, 2017
  • Jack Harold Jones – April 24, 2017
  • James McGehee – April 27, 2017
  • Marcel Williams – April 24, 2017

The move comes days after the state’s attorney general told the governor the inmates had exhausted their appeals and there were no more legal obstacles to their executions.

“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,” Hutchinson said in a statement.

The U.S. Supreme Court last week rejected the inmates’ request to review a state court ruling that upheld Arkansas’ lethal injection law. The state Supreme Court on Friday lifted the stay on its ruling, clearing the way for Attorney General Leslie Rutledge to request the dates be set.

The state’s supply of potassium chloride, one of three drugs used in lethal injections, expired in January. A prison system spokesman said Monday that the drug hasn’t been replaced, but Hutchinson’s office said there’s confidence the state can find a new supply.

An attorney for the inmates did not have an immediate comment on the governor’s announcement. The inmates late Friday filed an amended complaint in state court aimed at blocking the executions.

Arkansas hasn’t executed an inmate since 2005.