Jack H. Jones, Jr. and Marcel Williams were executed in Arkansas Monday night—the first time in almost seventeen years that a state has carried out two executions in the same day. There was no choice—the lethal drugs used for the execution were about to expire.
Like eggs you have to use up in an omelet or Doritos that require throwing together an extra large order of nachos for breakfast, you just can’t waste food. The same is probably true with midazolam (a sedative) and its two heart stopping follow-ups which constitute what we call a lethal injection. (On a side note, one of the requests honored for Mr. Williams’ last meal was, in fact, nachos with chili cheese and jalapeño peppers. It was not breakfast.)
I’m not now and never have been an advocate of capital punishment—I think it dehumanizes everyone involved in it—but that’s just me. And having said that, I will readily admit that these were two pretty bad actors: In 1995, Mr. Jones raped, beat, and strangled a 34-year-old woman, then beat and choked to unconsciousness her daughter who was 11 at the time. The girl survived and admitted relief when her attacker was executed. Mr. Williams, 46, kidnapped, robbed, raped, and strangled a 22-year-old mother of two in 1994. Both men admitted their guilt.
The prevailing political and societal mores seem to presage more executions in the future as the strictures that deter them seem certain to be either relaxed or abolished altogether. Civil rights and human rights seem destined for a rough patch, and truthfully, in cases like those of Jones and Williams, presenting opposing arguments is difficult. Even so, using up lethal injections before their expiration date, as economical as it may be in a depressed economy, seems a bit facile. It really isn’t so very far removed from the “president’s” belief that if we have nuclear weapons, why not use them. True, they don’t have an expiration date, but we might if he decides to test that theory.