Success: Courts Block Execution of Potentially Innocent Man

Target: Chief Justice John Dan Kemp, Arkansas Supreme Court

Goal: Approve of the Arkansas Supreme Court’s decision to grant a stay to death row inmate Stacey Johnson.

Arkansas’ planned execution spree has hit a road bump. On Wednesday, the state’s Supreme Court ordered a stay for death row inmate Stacey Johnson. Johnson was scheduled to be executed Thursday night. If that had happened, he would have been the first in an historic spree of planned executions in Arkansas. The spree itself was intended as a last ditch attempt by the state to use up its almost-expired stockpile of vecuronium bromide, which is one of three drugs used in a chemical cocktail during executions.

Johnson is just one of eight death row inmates the state hopes to execute within the next two weeks, ahead of the expiration of its supply of vecuronium bromide. Johnson has long maintained his innocence, and argued new DNA techniques could prove he was wrongly convicted of murder in 1993.

The Supreme Court agreed Johnson deserves one last chance to prove his innocence. The move means a total of four death row inmates facing imminent execution have received stays. While many executions are still set to go ahead, the fact is that Arkansas’ planned execution spree has now been effectively halved by courts. This success wouldn’t have been possible without the wave of public outcry in recent weeks, including petitions like this one from ForceChange. Let’s thank the courts for upholding justice, and urge them to continue to issue fair rulings for the remaining death row inmates.


Dear Chief Justice Kemp,

We welcome the Arkansas Supreme Court’s recent decision to grant death row inmate Stacey Johnson a stay of execution. Thanks to your decision, Johnson will be granted one final chance to prove his innocence. This ruling is just one of a series of court decisions effectively postponing a slew of controversial planned executions in Arkansas. The state had hoped to rush through a total of eight executions in a period of less than two weeks, simply to use up its rapidly expiring supply of vecuronium bromide.

The fate of a human life should never depend on the expiration date of an execution drug. In the case of Johnson, the Arkansas Supreme Court has delivered a just, sensible and merciful verdict. We now urge you to do the same for the remaining inmates facing imminent execution in Arkansas.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Ken Piorkowski

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