LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- In a private conference with local press Thursday, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced he is confident in the state's execution process.
He said everything will be moving forward as planned. Hutchinson said that overall, Arkansans support the death penalty and it's time to provide closure for the victim’s families after decades of legal work.
The governor said he has done his homework and asked the Department of Correction staff many questions about carrying out the executions. He feels the personnel that will be involved in the executions are well prepared, experienced and trained. He is confident everything will be handled “professionally and seriously” moving forward.
Hutchinson is also standing by the decision to execute 7 people in a 10 day period. He doesn't believe it's best to spread out executions over more time because it would be harder on the staff involved and the families of the victims.
“I don't want to go back to these families and say we’re worried about how this looks or the speed of this and so were not going to be able to carry out the will of the jury or the courts in these sentencings,” he said.
Hutchinson also said he's confident there will not be issues with the controversial sedative Midazolam that will be used in the executions. He cited expert testimony from states like Florida who have had multiple successful executions using the drug. He said the fact the drug is expiring soon did play a factor in the timetable for executions.
“Whenever you look at an expiration date, even though the experts say the potency of the drugs lasts far beyond that, I knew that would lead to another challenge by the defense lawyers if we went beyond the expiration date,” he said.
Hutchinson said he spoke privately with some of the family members of the victims in these cases. He gave the example of speaking with John Melbourne Sr. whose 15-year-old son was tortured and murdered by Jason McGehee. He said the families need closure sooner than later.
“It’s torturous and for [Melbourne Sr.] to come in and say we need closure in this case," Hutchinson said. "[It] really reflects so many of the victim’s families that have had to live with this nightmare for some cases 20 to 25 years."