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Arkansas Supreme Court allows planned executions to go forward

[JURIST] The Arkansas Supreme Court [official website] issued an order [order, PDF] on Thursday stating there is no stay in place preventing the execution of eight inmates schedule for next month. The order came after Attorney General Leslie Rutledge [official website] requested that the court clarify that there is in fact no stay on the inmates' execution. Attorneys for the inmates argued that the court should invalidate Governor Asa Hutchinson's [official website] proclamation scheduling the executions for April because they filed an an amended complaint in a lower court. The court stated that it lifted its stay following the US Supreme Court denied review of the state court's ruling. The state has not executed [AP report] an inmate since 2005 due to the legal challenges against its lethal injection law and difficulties obtaining the drugs required.

The death penalty has been a pressing issue across the country. Earlier this month the Mississippi house approved a bill [JURIST report] allowing firing squad executions. Also this month a judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio refused to lift [JURIST report] a preliminary injunction that delays executions in Ohio. Last month Judge Michael Merz blocked [JURIST report] Ohio's lethal injection protocol by deeming it unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment. In January the US Supreme Court refused [JURIST report] to consider a challenge to Alabama's death penalty system. In December a report by the Death Penalty Information Center found that the use of capital punishment in the US is at a 20-year low [JURIST report].

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