Kenneth Williams was the fourth death-row inmate executed in the past eight days. He was a two-time murderer, having killed a college cheerleader and later a former deputy warden after a prison escape in 1999.
According to Williams’ legal team and several witnesses, Williams’ death did not go according to plan and his legal team is now demanding an investigation. It has been reported that Williams lurched and convulsed before he died, possibly experiencing pain. Arkansas Governor Hutchinson did not attend the execution but issued a statement saying that it went according to protocol.
Housley asked Hunter what should happen during an execution? Hunter explained that an inmate should not experience pain during the process. Hunter expanded on this by saying that no one is suggesting that the inmate should not be put to death but it is a question of how it is done. It needs to be done in accordance with the Constitution which does not allow for cruel and unusual punishment.
The host wanted to know how Williams’ attorney would prove that there had been actual pain and what they need to prove. Hunter detailed the three drug process that was used in this particular case. He also pointed out that there seems to be a discrepancy of events between witnesses, possibly due to people’s experiences involving Williams. However, a federal judge has ordered that William’s body, blood and tissue be preserved for an autopsy and pathology testing. This is not usually done after an execution.
Hunter was then asked about possible reform within the capital punishment process. Hunter commented that there seems to already be reform, even in states such as Arizona and Florida who seem to be more likely to employ capital punishment. These states no longer use the three drug cocktail that caused alarm in Arkansas.
These types executions often post major civil rights concerns, especially when something goes wrong. These processes have been tested as such that they should not cause pain to the person being put to death. As mentioned above, this is a constitutionally protected right, restricting the citizens exposure to cruel and unusual punishment.
The death penalty debate has been a hot-button issue as a result of this constitutional protection. Proponents of the death penalty say it is an important tool for preserving law and order, costs less than life imprisonment, and instills fear/deters crime. They argue that “an eye for an eye” retribution honors the victims, helps grieving families feel justice, and ensures that those who commit horrendous crimes never have a chance to cause tragedy in the future.
Opponents of capital punishment say it has does not deter crime, wrongly gives governments the power to take human life, and perpetuates social injustice by disproportionately targeting people of color and people who cannot afford good attorneys.
They say lifetime jail sentences are a more severe and less expensive punishment than death.