It took eight years, but I am finally going to talk about a state that no one would know existed if it wasn’t for Bill Clinton and the Little Rock 9 – Arkansas.
But sometimes obscurity is a good thing. Because when anything, be it a person or a place, gains national attention, half of the time it’s for something negative.
And in the case for Arkansas, the 25th state admitted into the Union, it’s not on the good side.
The state has made national headlines in recent weeks after its Republican governor, Asa Hutchinson, ordered the execution of eight prisoners over the span of 11 days in late April, before the state’s supply of lethal drugs reached its expiration date.
Arkansas has not carried out an execution since 2005. Since capital punishment resumed in the United States in 1977, no other state has conducted as many executions in the same month.
But Arkansas decided to go big or go home. There was originally scheduled to be eight executions, but one was just recently granted clemency. All seven felons were convicted of murder.
With just days to go, the executions are being appealed in federal court on the argument of cruel and unusual punishment. Which is perfectly logical. When you rush what is supposed to be a carefully performed and meticulous process such as an execution, a lot can go wrong.
This isn’t rushing to assemble seven couches you bought at IKEA before a Super Bowl party. If just one little thing goes wrong, then these people – despite their dubious past – will suffer terribly. And that’s not what we do in America.
At least that’s not what we try to do. Oklahoma says hi.
There’s another oddity in this situation – state law requires executions to be witnessed by six to 12 witnesses who are non-family members of the inmate or victim to ensure that it’s being carried out legally.
That means Arkansas needs at least 42 witnesses, something they’re having trouble finding. They’re so desperate that a state official attended a local rotary club meeting to solicit volunteers. Hey, I’m sure somebody was free one of those nights and decided they had nothing better to do than watch somebody die. If they arrive early they can catch a double feature!
It’ll be very interesting to see over the next few days if these executions go on as planned.
What I find most befuddling is that Arkansas is so eager to fast-track these executions that they’re willing to take unprecedented steps to get them done. While most states are scaling back on executions, Arkansas is rushing people to the express lane.
You can basically line up all their mug shots together and it’ll look like an inmate Brady Bunch.
The good news is that they have just enough inmates to qualify for the seven-executions-or-less self-checkout line.
Which reminds me, I need to go grocery shopping tomorrow.
*Makes mental note not to forget to buy ZICO coconut water*
What was I talking about again? Oh, right, seven people being put to death at the same rate that Fast and the Furious movies reproduce.
But Arkansas still has three days to realize it’s trying to do something pretty crazy.
And with that, I completed a blog about Arkansas. That leaves only Montana, Idaho and Wyoming as the only states I’ve yet to discuss.
I’M WATCHING YOU.