The Arkansas Department of Correction has developed a procedure for conducting executions, when and if the governor sets an execution date.

The Arkansas Department of Correction has developed a procedure for conducting executions, when and if the governor sets an execution date.


They have also purchased the three drugs necessary for lethal injections, according to documents furnished by ADC spokeswoman Cathy Frye.


The documents show the department paid $24,226 for potassium chloride, vecuronium bromide and midazolam. The company name and address were blacked out, based on a state law that allows ADC to keep the name of the supplier a secret.


The department ordered 100 doses of potassium chloride, 80 doses of vercuronium bromide and 160 doses of midazolam.


There are 34 inmates on death row, 16 white and 18 black, according to the Arkansas Department of Correction website. Roger Coulter, 55, who was convicted of capital murder in Ashley County in 1989, has been on the list the longest. The most recent addition to the list was Zachary D. Holly, 30, who was sentenced to death in Benton County on May 27.


Judd Deere, a spokesman for Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, said Thursday that eight inmates have exhausted their eligibility for appeal. That list includes Kenneth Williams, who was sentenced to death in Lincoln County after he escaped from Cummins Prison and killed Cecil Boren, 57. Williams had been serving a life sentence for the 1998 shooting death of Dominique "Nikki" Hurd, a cheerleader at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. While in prison, Williams sent a letter to The Commercial confessing to the shooting death of Jerrel Jenkins, 36, of Pine Bluff, who was killed the same day Hurd was. Williams was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for that killing.


The lethal injection procedure covers six pages and includes everything from how the gurney is positioned in the execution chamber to the setup of intravenous infusion (IV) devices in each arm.


"Every effort will be extended to the condemned inmate to ensure that no unnecessary pain or suffering is inflicted by the IV procedure," the DOC’s policy procedure states. "Standard practice of using a local anesthetic (1 percent lidocaine) will be accommodated as necessary."


Also, the department procedure calls for the use of a total of 500 milligrams of midazolam, 100 milligrams of vecuronium bromide and 240 milliequivalents of potassium chloride, with the 500 milligrams of midazolam and 60 milligrams of saline solution administered first. After five minutes, the condemned prisoner will be examined and if unconscious, the other drugs will be administered.


In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the use of the sedative midazolam in executions does not violate constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment and Hutchinson and Rutledge said at the time that the ruling brought Arkansas one step closer to resuming lethal injections.


The purchase of the drugs and the establishment of the execution protocol is seen as another step in that direction. The governor said in June that he was ready to fulfill his responsibility to issue death warrants, but he said the state first needed to obtain the necessary drugs and resolve pending litigation challenging the state’s lethal-injection law.


A group of death-row inmates has filed a lawsuit challenging a state law allowing the drugs and procedures used in executions to be kept secret. Deere said Thursday that the lawsuit is still pending and the state has filed a motion to dismiss it.


Deere said Thursday that Rutledge has not asked the governor to set an execution date as yet, and has no timetable for doing so.


A spokeswoman for Gov. Asa Hutchinson said when the governor is asked to set a date, "the process will start."


Arkansas has never used midazolam in an execution. The state’s lethal-injection law allows the Department of Correction to carry out executions using either a single barbiturate or a combination of drugs, including a sedative such as midazolam.


The drug was used in Oklahoma in the 2014 execution of Clayton Lockett, who, according to reporters who were present, was seen writhing in apparent pain during the procedure. Lockett died of a heart attack more than an hour after the procedure was scheduled to begin.


There has not been an execution in Arkansas since 2005.


— Arkansas News Bureau reporter John Lyon contributed to this report