DRAMATIC

Judge Halts Impending Arkansas Executions

A federal judge on Saturday halted Arkansas’ plans to execute eight men by the end of the month over concerns about the drugs used to carry out the executions. U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker granted a preliminary injunction requested by the inmates, saying the men have a right to fight against the state using drugs that could cause “severe pain.” The attorney general’s office has already promised to appeal Baker’s “unfortunate” ruling. Baker’s ruling comes after two pharmaceutical companies on Wednesday filed to have the state blocked from using their drugs, saying the Arkansas Department of Correction may have not followed protocols in the drugs’ distribution. The executions were due to begin Monday in an unprecedented move by Arkansas authorities, who had hoped to use midazolam, one of the state’s lethal injection drugs, before it expires on April 30. The state has not executed an inmate since 2005, and it has not carried out a double execution since 1999.