Success: Court Blocks Cruel Executions of Seven Prisoners

Target: Kristine G. Baker, Federal Judge for the District Court in Little Rock, Arkansas

Goal: Praise Judge Baker for stopping the cruel executions of seven prisoners in Arkansas.

Citing the Eighth Amendment, a federal judge in the District Court of Eastern Arkansas has blocked the executions of seven prisoners set to die in rapid succession by means of a drug with unproven results. Hoping to use its supply of midazolam, a sedative used in lethal injection, before it expired at the end of April, Governor Asa Hutchinson has claimed it was necessary to execute these men over the course of eleven days in order to ensure justice was served, but Judge Kristine G. Baker noted that “The threat of irreparable harm to the plaintiffs is significant” should the drugs not work properly. Midazolam has resulted in the botched executions of several men in 2014, with their executions leaving them struggling and gasping for air for as much as nearly two hours, and many people have pushed back against its use, like those who signed this petition on ForceChange. Judge Baker’s ruling serves our constitution well, and she should be lauded for her stand for human rights.

As standard lethal injection drugs have become harder to find due to international backlash against capital punishment, states have increasingly relied on less effective drugs. This creates the potential for serious suffering for prisoners set to death, but also threatens the well-being of prison staff. Leaders in the prison system have warned of the psychological damages a botched execution poses, such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, which become more likely when midazolam is used. Though the Supreme Court has ruled that sedating inmates with midazolam is legal, Judge Baker’s review of the evidence of numerous executions gone wrong due to its use led her to block this cruel punishment of seven prisoners, and for that she should be commended.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Judge Baker,

I write to you today to thank you for ruling against the rapid executions of seven prisoners in Arkansas, a decision which upholds our country’s constitution and the human rights it sought to protect. Midazolam poses a torturous threat when used during lethal injection, as proved during several botched executions in 2014, and by sparing the lives of seven men, you showed that the Eighth Amendment is not easily excused in punishing even the most heinous crimes.

With standard lethal injection drugs becoming more difficult to find, your ruling will serve as a counterbalance to states willing to use any means necessary to execute those on death row. By setting this precedent, you inspire the innumerable death penalty opponents who fight every day to preserve the integrity of law, order, and human dignity, and I fully support you.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Matt Wade

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