Last night, Arkansas ended the lives of two inmates by lethal injection. This is the first double execution carried out in the country since 2000.
Only last week had another inmate been killed by the state following concerns over the expiration of the chemical used in the procedure, according to The Washington Post. The state had hoped to execute eight prisoners in eleven days, but those plans were thwarted by court orders that blocked half of those sentences.
Jack H. Jones Jr. and Marcel W. Williams were the two prisoners killed yesterday.
Both were on death row after being found guilty of murders described as "brutal" two decades ago. Both had appealed to the Supreme Court unsuccessfully. Both had claimed they had medical conditions that would interfere with the procedure or cause them great pain and suffering. Jones was executed first, delaying Williams' death by a few hours after it was claimed that Jones' execution was botched. Jones' death was described by his attorneys as "torturous and inhumane." Officials proceeded nonetheless and terminated Williams shortly after anyway.
State officials have pushed back against the claims about the quality of Jones' demise: “The claim that Jones was moving his lips and gulping for air is unsupported by press accounts or the accounts of other witnesses,” the Arkansas response stated. “The drugs were administered to Jones at 7:06 p.m. and he was pronounced dead at 7:20 p.m. There was no constitutional violation in Jones’ execution.”
Following the executions, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said that the “the rule of law was upheld” and “justice has prevailed.”
The state will continue to rush a handful more executions due to the expiring drugs despite numerous objections. Leslie Rutledge, the state’s attorney general, said that “families have waited far too long to see justice.”
The first inmates last words were apparently, "Let's do this." The second's: “I am ready. I love you all.”
[Photo: Getty Images]