The US state of Arkansas killed Jack Jones and Marcel Williams back-to-back on Monday, bringing the number to three inmates executed so far in an ongoing flurry to beat a chemical use-by date.

Execution table in Arkansas Department of Corrections facility. (File photo)
Execution table in Arkansas Department of Corrections facility. (File photo)

Arkansas carried out back-to-back executions on Monday night, administering lethal injections to two men convicted of rape and murder to become the first US state to put more than one inmate to death on the same day in 17 years.

Marcel Williams, 46, was pronounced dead at 0333 GMT, a little more than three hours after the execution of 52-year-old Jack Jones, according to officials at Cummins Unit prison, about 75 miles (120 km) southeast of the state capital, Little Rock.

The two men were among eight that the state had initially planned to execute over the course of 11 days this month, prompted by the impending expiration date of the state's supply of midazolam, a sedative used as part of the three-drug protocol.

Four of those executions have been put on hold by court order.

Jones was convicted of raping and killing Mary Phillips, 34, in 1995 and trying to murder her 11-year-old daughter. He also was convicted of rape and murder in Florida.

Williams was convicted of the 1997 kidnapping, rape and murder of 22-year-old Stacy Errickson. He also abducted and raped two other women.

Governor Asa Hutchinson said he hoped the executions would bring closure to the victim's families.

In his final words, Jones apologised to the young girl he left for dead, now a grown woman.

Williams did not offer any last words, witnesses told local media.

The twin executions followed a flurry of unsuccessful appeals earlier on Monday to the US Supreme Court and the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Jones was the second inmate executed in Arkansas since 2005, after the state put Ledell Lee to death last week. Arkansas has scheduled another execution for Thursday.

US states with the death penalty have struggled to obtain enough lethal injection drugs, including midazolam, as manufacturers and distributors have increasingly refused to provide supplies for capital punishment.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies