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Governor Confident In Prisons Agency To Execute Inmates Successfully, On Schedule

Karen Tricot Steward
Arkansas Public Media

Governor Asa Hutchinson has great confidence that the seven executions set for this month will be carried out successfully.

“I don't expect [a botched execution] to happen. I went [to the Arkansas Department of Correction] and I reviewed the protocols, procedures and training. But, obviously, there's contingency plans. That's why we have communication directly from the chambers there to my office,” said Hutchinson.

Don Davis and Bruce Ward are scheduled to die by lethal injection Monday. Hutchinson, as is protocol, will be called for his verbal approval moments before each man dies.

The state plans to execute five more death row inmates April 20, 24 and 27.

Arkansas’s spate of executions has attracted national and international press, and in a rare press appearance today dedicated solely to the matter Hutchinson said he has visited with officials at the Arkansas Department of Correction and is supportive of their plans and confident in their capabilities.

The governor’s sentiments follow a similar statement department spokesman Solomon Graves gave Arkansas Public Media Wednesday.

“Arkansas's lethal injection protocol is based on a protocol that has been reviewed and approved by the U.S. Supreme Court. The ADC is confident that this protocol, if followed as designed, is sufficient to minimize the risk of any untoward occurrences. The ADC is also confident that the assigned personnel have the adequate training to follow the protocol as designed,” said Soloman Graves.

Credit Karen Tricot Steward / Arkansas Public Media
Arkansas Public Media
Gov. Asa Hutchinson after meeting with media collectively granted each media outfit a two-minute interview.

Even as Hutchinson gave media and hour of his time for questions and discussion federal Judge Kristine Baker presided over day four of an ongoing and lengthy hearing that could stay the executions. Lawyers for the condemned are trying to convince Baker that the state’s seemingly hurried schedule, not just the seven executions in 11 days, but the fact these men’s death warrants were issued just about two months earlier, violates the men’s Eighth Amendment rights against cruel and unusual punishment.

Hutchinson acknowledged he has been declining interviews with the media. The press availability Thursday was a stab at transparency.

He's been very engaged in the past few weeks, reviewing information from states that have had botched executions with the drug to be used in Arkansas's lethal injection process, a sedative using in minor surgical procedures called midazolam or Versed.

He has also been meeting with the families of the murdered victims.

Hutchinson spoke about the gruesome nature of the crimes of the inmates, many two or three decades old now, and at times he became emotional.  

As Content Development Director, Karen Tricot Steward oversees the creation of news and cultural programming and helps set standards and best practices. She manages content on our website and social media. Karen also coordinates the internship program and collaborates with journalism professors at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to teach students, helping fulfill public radio’s goal of serving the community by being a place of learning.
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