“Why these eight? Why now?”
That was the question US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer asked Arkansas just hours before the state put inmate Ledell Lee to death on Thursday, the state’s first execution since 2005.
Arkansas, which announced an unprecedented plan to execute 8 inmates in 11 days, battled a flurry of legal challenges that delayed its execution schedule until Thursday night, when Lee became the first inmate to die.Three other inmates were given stays, and a fourth was recommended for clemency. A drug manufacturer also sued to stop its product from being used in the executions; it won a temporary restraining order twice, only to have that order removed, twice. A separate federal court ruled to stop all the executions, only to see a higher court overturn that order, allowing the executions to proceed. Petitions were sent to the U.S. Supreme Court. Ultimately, a divided Supreme Court declined to halt the executions, but Breyer still wanted to know why this all had to happen in the first place.
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