The State Correction Department issued a terse statement today announcing it had received a supply of one of the three drugs used in the lethal injection process.
The Arkansas Department of Correction notified the Governor’s Office and the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office that they received a supply of vecuronium bromide with an expiration date of March 1, 2018.
In response to a question, the Department said the supply was sufficient for eight executions. That was the number set by Gov. Asa Hutchinson last year, but all dates passed because of legal appeals.
The process requires this drug as well midazolam and potassium chloride. The Correction Department had said previously that one of the three drugs had reached its expiration date June 30. This was the drug lacking, the department said today. Without supplies of all three drugs, executions couldn’t proceed. Midazolam, a paralytic, is administered first, then vecuronium bromide, a muscle relaxant, and potassium chloride, which stops the heart.
The Correction Department didn’t reveal the source of the drug. A 2015 state law allows such secrecy. That has been challenged by eight Death Row inmates, who are currently asking for a rehearing of a 4-3 Arkansas Supreme Court ruling that allowed the legislature to override a constitutional requirement for the disclosure of all public expenditures, such as whatever money was spent, and where, on the acquisition of this new drug. The Supreme Court decided that public disclosure was required, but as the legislature chose — presumably never because state officials claim identification of drug sources discourages suppliers who don’t want to be associated with executions.
No execution dates are currently pending. The attorney general and governor have said that process would move forward when the appeals process is completed on the Death Row inmates’ suit. Hutchinson is traveling in Europe. He’ll have a press availability by phone tomorrow.
There are 34 men on Death Row for convictions dating back to 1989. The last execution in Arknasas was in 2005.