LITTLE ROCK - The state Correction Department has obtained the drugs needed for lethal injection, preparing the way for the governor to set an execution date for an inmate on death row who was sentenced to death for capital murder in Johnson County in 1992.
Sidney Burnett, a pastor who was 69 years old, was killed in 1991 by Jack Greene, who is now 62. Greene's attorneys argue that he is mentally ill. The state attorney general said in a letter to the governor that Greene had exhausted his legal appeals and that no court has a stay of execution in place.
Arkansas executed four inmates earlier this year, in April. Eight men were originally scheduled to die by lethal injection, but the lives of four inmates were spared by last minute court rulings. Greene was not among the eight men scheduled for execution in April. A spokesman for the governor's office said that he would schedule an execution date for Greene.
Adding to the controversy over Arkansas executions was the fact that one of the three drugs used for lethal injection was due to expire. The state scheduled the April executions before the drug's expiration date. The new supply of midazolam, a sedative used in lethal injections, was obtained on August 4 and will be good until January of 2019.
State law prohibits prison officials from releasing the identity of the pharmaceutical supplier who sold the lethal drugs to the state. News organizations filed Freedom of Information requests and learned that the state paid $250 for the drugs.
One remaining legal issue is a challenge by the pharmaceutical supplier that sold another of the lethal injection drugs to the Arkansas Department of Correction. It is vecuronium bromide. The company contends in court that state officials bought the drug under false pretenses.
The company argues that Correction officials said the drug would be used for medical purposes in prison health units, in order to circumvent the company's policy against allowing its drugs to be used in executions. A circuit judge ruled in favor of the pharmaceutical company in a preliminary action, but the state Supreme Court overturned the lower court. More litigation is on the way.
The Correction Department's supply of vecuronium bromide expires on March 1 of 2018 and its supply of the third drug, potassium chloride, expires on August 31 of next year.
According to national news reports, Toyota and Mazda are planning a joint venture to build a $1.6 billion auto manufacturing plant that would employ 4,000 people and produce 300,000 vehicles a year. Arkansas is one of more than a dozen states bidding to be the location of the project.
The corporations as being secretive about their plans, but they did recently announce that they intend to join forces to increase their presence in the United States.
A spokesman for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission told USA Today that the state certainly is interested in pursuing the plant. The publication listed the variety of incentives Arkansas has to offer, including the authority to issue bonds to pay for infrastructure that would lure a superproject. Arkansas can provide job training, sales tax exemptions and tax credits.