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April 24, 2017

Arkansas successfully completes two execution in one night

As reported in this AP article, Arkansas has completed the nation's first double execution in nearly two decades.  Here are the basic details:

Arkansas has put to death inmate Marcel Williams, marking the first double execution in the United States since 2000.

Williams was pronounced dead at 10:33 p.m. Monday, 17 minutes after the procedure began at the Cummins Unit in southeast Arkansas. Inmate Jack Jones was executed earlier in the evening.

Williams was sent to death row for the 1994 rape and killing of 22-year-old Stacy Errickson, whom he'd kidnapped from a gas station in central Arkansas....

Attorneys for Marcel Williams had questioned whether the night's first execution of Jack Jones went properly. U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker issued the stay for Williams, then, lifted it about an hour later — at 9:22 p.m....

Jones was pronounced dead at 7:20 p.m. Monday at the state's Cummins Unit in southeast Arkansas.... Jones was sent to death row for the 1995 rape and killing of Mary Phillips.  He was also convicted of attempting to kill Phillips' 11-year-old daughter and was convicted in another rape and killing in Florida.

UPDATE:  Bill Otis over at Crime & Consequences has this extended new post contending that the double execution in Arkansas "may be remembered as the moment the movement to abolish the death penalty started back downhill after many years of gaining ground."

April 24, 2017 at 11:58 PM | Permalink


So much for the doctor who testified (from the scotusblog reporting on tonight's events): “it is unlikely that the State will succeed in killing him.” The “more likely result,” the physician said, “will be that he is left
with disabling, irreversible injuries.”

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Apr 25, 2017 1:07:20 AM

The near fiasco last night brought on by frivolous lawsuits at last minutes. The LIES filed by the Williams lawyers regarding Jones' execution are despicable and they should be disbarred. Someone in ARKANSAS PLEASE file a complaint. The honest media and 3rd party witnesses said the exact opposite as these lawyers; there was no pain no movement it was a clinical death. Don't bother saying they are only doing their job...they are filing FALSE statements with the courts. Shameful.

Posted by: DeanO | Apr 25, 2017 8:05:41 AM

Perhaps the doctor will now try to claim, Soronel, that death was one of the "disabling, irreversible injuries” he was actually thinking about.....

Morbid jokes aside, it will be interesting to see how future fights over the use of midazolam in executions will play out after Arkansas' seemingly successful efforts here. Notably, there are conflicting reports over whether the first of the two executions yesterday went off smoothly, but state officials in Arkansas and other states would still seem to be in a position to claim midazolam is effectively getting the job done.

Posted by: Doug B. | Apr 25, 2017 8:12:57 AM

Through this blog my stance on the death penalty has changed from a reluctant supporter to a reluctant opposer I thought Bill O.s analysis was well stated. For me, the single biggest arrow in his quiver is the fact the DP opponents have made a wreck of the execution system and then used the mess they created as an excuse to dump the whole project. Justice Breyer is correct--the process is random but that randomness has been brought about by DP opponent obstructionism not by anything intrinsic to the system.

Where I disagree with Bill is when he writes, "The idea that death was a disproportionate punishment simply could not survive even a brief summary of what these men did -- ". Well sure, these men...but as we have seen time and time again this statement by Bill O. is nothing more than gain consolidation. It will be these men today, jaywalkers down the road. That is what has changed my own mind. I have no faith anymore the DP supporters can hold the line on the worst of the worst. They bloodlusters who won't be content until all who disagree with them are dead.

Posted by: Daniel | Apr 25, 2017 9:15:30 AM

I think we should all take the time to remember the 11 year old girl left for dead with her dead mother. She has had to endure unimaginable pain on a lonely quest for justice. The "wise [sic] Latina" wanted to make her endure more, even though (a) capital punishment is legal, (b) the stay applications were last minute and (c) all appeals long since done, and habeas long since done.

Sotomayor should be ruthlessly criticized for her stance.

Posted by: federalist | Apr 25, 2017 9:38:01 AM


Given that I believe (as I have stated numerous times that execution is the appropriate outcome for crimes as mundane as the theft of a couple hundred dollars I both fit that criticism perfectly and reject it outright. I would not go so far as to include jaywalkers (as they have not done anything to directly hurt another though there is certainly the possibility of endangerment) but for any offense where there is an ascertainable victim I would not have a real problem with execution until that harm is in the low tens of dollars.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Apr 25, 2017 11:26:33 AM

When anti-death penalty liberal types manage to use the government two times without a hitch (after four other cases on other grounds at least were not so successful), with conflicted reports, should they be trusted too? Seems a low bar.

I had a longer comment but don't see it. That's fine. Might not have been "twerpy" enough.

Posted by: Joe | Apr 25, 2017 12:06:49 PM

Sor. As one of the few people supporting the substantive victim right to not be a crime victim, I have to address you. The other pro-criminal commentators are morally disgusting. They are all tax sucking parasites, protecting their worthless make work jobs, and defending their own crime of rent seeking. I have to come up with a name for an animal that is both a reptile and a weasel, an inhuman, heartless, cold blooded weasel. There is no talking to them. They have cast their lot making a living from the suffering of crime victims.

I believe technology is the solution. It will come at the criminal from two directions. One is the opioid death epidemic, eradicating criminals by the tens of thousands. Real pain patients are safe. They will say, "I had to cut my 5 mg of methadone in half, because it made me dizzy." They are not buying heroin laced with carfentanyl. Second, at some point the genetics underlying chronic criminality will be found and corrected with CRISPR/cas 9 technology. So the criminals will be dead from the first, and not born from the second. The lawyer profession understands both, and will work hard to impede them. But technology cannot be stopped. China will lead us on this front, as it does today in capital punishment. They just executed a woman who trafficked in sex with children.

Posted by: David Behar | Apr 25, 2017 1:42:50 PM


I don't trust either side. I don't trust liberals to implement even the most constricted death penalty system fairly and I don't trust conservatives to limit the death penalty to only the most egregious cases. So the question then becomes what does a rational person do in that situation? My own answer has been to return to fundamentals and fundamentally I fear the social damage that bloodlusters like Soronel and Bill O. are capable of doing more than I do the social damaged caused by locking up a few extra people for the span of their natural lives. The bloodlusters are organized and will...as Soronel freely admits...stop at almost nothing to satiate their thirst. That organized malice is far more alarming to me than the random chance I might get hurt because someone wasn't deterred due to the lack of a DP.

Posted by: Daniel | Apr 25, 2017 2:51:15 PM

Thanks for the comment Daniel.

I found this part of your first comment dubious: "randomness has been brought about by DP opponent obstructionism not by anything intrinsic to the system." I think there are various reasons for it, each side playing a part. Your second comment has a more balanced take of things, whatever our differences on specifics.

Posted by: Joe | Apr 25, 2017 3:43:43 PM


I would be fine with locking people up for the span of their natural lives but I am afraid that DP opponents would not actually stop there, they would only be emboldened by success and do away first with LWOP then LWP and then even meaningfully long sentences. I'm sorry but 20 years for premeditated murder (as seen in many European countries) is simply insane, as is the right to have an offense be forgotten.

I could perhaps see a right not to have the government consider an offense after some time period but the restrictions go much further than that.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Apr 25, 2017 10:39:13 PM

Mr. Bill could be right but for the innocence project antibodies spreading throughout the body politic.

Posted by: George | Apr 27, 2017 4:05:35 PM

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