Arkansas hasn't executed anyone in 11 years—but between April 17 and April 27, eight men will be put to death, an "unprecedented" move in the US, according to a group that monitors executions in the country. Nine inmates had asked the US Supreme Court to review the state court ruling over Arkansas' lethal injection law, and Gov. Asa Hutchinson scheduled the executions soon after the high court said it would not do so, the AP reports. Hutchinson released a statement saying the law requires him to set the execution dates, KATV reports, but CNN notes that activists are criticizing the decision. "This planned mass execution is grotesque and unprecedented," says the Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. Prior to this, there have only been two times a state has executed that many people in one month.
Lawyers for the men are trying to block the executions, and some had argued a stay of execution was still in place for the inmates. On Thursday the Arkansas Supreme Court said there's no stay in place. The AP notes the execution dates appear to have been set so close together, with the inmates being executed in pairs, in an attempt to finish them before Arkansas' supply of one of the execution drugs, midazolam, expires at the end of April. Attorneys for some of the men argue that midazolam, which knocks the inmates out before other drugs kill them, doesn't keep them from experiencing pain and thus the state's lethal injection protocol constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Arkansas must also obtain a new supply of another execution drug, potassium chloride, because its supply expired last month.