Arkansas Asks Rotary Club Members to Witness the Executions of Eight Men Next Month

One of Rotary’s stated purposes is “to provide humanitarian services.” So why did Arkansas, which plans to execute eight inmates over ten days next month, ask its local Rotary Club to be citizen witnesses?

Rotary International is a service organization that works “to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian services, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and to advance goodwill and peace around the world,” according to Wikipedia. Now the state of Arkansas would like to expand that purpose to include “and to witness executions.”

According to Arkansas Online, prison officials don’t have enough witnesses for its planned executions of eight men, two a day, over a period of ten days next month.
Arkansas law mandates a minimum of six citizen witnesses per execution. So the Dept. of Corrections director went to a Little Rock Rotary Club meeting this week and asked the members to sign up.

Arkansas Online said the Rotarians it talked to did not seem enthusiastic at the prospect of watching the state execute these men. One member, who is a funeral director, told the paper, “At this point in my life, I don’t know if I’d want to risk being traumatized by it.”

Prison officials have not said what they will do if they fail to recruit the number of witnesses they need.

If the prison does go ahead with the scheduled executions, it will be the highest number of executions in that short a period of time since 1976. The prison says the accelerated pace is due to the fact that some of its lethal drugs will expire at the end of April.

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