The death penalty (or as I like to call it: grownup abortion) is a relatively contentious issue.
Some are totally okay with it, others are slightly less excited about it, and many are mostly pretty much against it. Very few folks are completely, 100 percent opposed to capital punishment, though, because there's always at least one blatantly guilty criminal who did something so fucked up that even the most die-hard liberals are like, "Oh yeah, that piece of shit definitely deserves to die."
Despite its ethical complications and moral controversies, capital punishment remains an option throughout most the the U.S. But now, bad drugs and public disinterest may be the downfall of at least one state's death penalty.
In Arkansas, eight death row inmates are scheduled to be executed within the next month. But the state is having some trouble carrying out their sentences, because according to a law that's almost as archaic as the death penalty itself,
Arkansas requires that at least six volunteers be present to witness an execution. And for some strange reason, they can't quite find a half-dozen psychopaths who're interested in watching someone die.
But the rule isn't just that you need six people to watch the execution take place. They have to be six Arkansas residents who are twenty-one or over with no felony convictions, and they can't be related to the victim in the case or the death row inmate. And that's fair. It probably wouldn't work out that well if the government started calling people up and saying, "Hey, are you free this Thursday? Because we need a favor. We're trying to kill your son that night, but we're not allowed to execute him unless you and a few friends come out and watch. Tickets are free, but we do have a two item minimum."
I understand how it might be difficult to find a willing audience for all eight executions. But of the convicts scheduled to face the death penalty, four are white and four are black. And you'd think that in a place like Arkansas, it would be relatively easy to find six racists who wanted to watch a black man die. Right? Like, I would've thought that if the government told people they needed an audience for a black man's execution, they'd get a sold-out crowd and a bunch of Klansman having a tailgate party in the prison parking lot.
But the problem isn't just that no one's willing to attend the executions. Arkansas is on a tight schedule, because—and this is true—the state's supply of midazolam, one of the drugs used for lethal injections, expires at the end of April.
Do you remember how when you were younger, your mom would find a way to turn all of the nearly expired food in the fridge into a somewhat decent meal? She'd cut off the moldy parts of the bread, onions, and potatoes so that she could concoct some sort of soup or stew or meatloaf because she didn't want anything to go to waste? Well this is exactly like that, but instead of taking a bunch of leftovers and inventing a new type of casserole before the ground beef goes bad, the state of Arkansas has to rush through eight death sentences before a drug expires.
So now Arkansas has to kill eight men over the course of 11 days (the fastest pace of execution in any state since 1977) in order to get away with using midazolam (a highly controversial sedative which has been linked to several botched executions including a case in Arizona where an inmate suffocated for approximately two hours before dying and a similar case that took place in Oklahoma three years ago).
That's a lot of pressure. Because if the drug expires and/or they can't find a suitable audience for the executions, Arkansas might be forced to do something uncharacteristically drastic, like killing someone in front of only four people, reconsidering the firing squad, or finally getting rid of the fucking death penalty.