On June 23, 2016, the Arkansas Supreme Court upheld the state law keeping confidential information on lethal injection drugs. Governor Hutchinson later scheduled eight executions to occur within a ten-day period starting on April 17, 2017, on account of the imminent expiration of the state’s supply of midazolam, a drug that has been employed in executions. The compressed schedule drew criticism from across the nation, including from a group of former and current corrections officials; also at issue was the state's intended use of midazolam as the initial sedative, given that the drug had failed to render condemned prisoners completely unconscious in previous executions. The means by which the state had acquired the drugs for execution also proved controversial—one supplier later filed suit against the state, insisting it had been misled as to the intended use of the drug, while the state’s supply of potassium chloride was “donated” anonymously in a parking lot. Various court rulings canceled the first three executions scheduled for April 2017. However, on April 20, the state executed Ledell Lee after the . Supreme Court denied his last appeals, marking the first execution in Arkansas since 2005. On April 24, 2017, the state executed Jack Jones and Marcel Williams, the first time any state had carried out a double execution since 2010. Kenneth Williams was executed three days later.
In some states, the high number of aggravating factors has been criticized on account of giving prosecutors too much discretion in choosing cases where they believe capital punishment is warranted. In California especially, an official commission proposed, in 2008, to reduce these factors to five (multiple murders, torture murder , murder of a police officer, murder committed in jail, and murder related to another felony).  Columnist Charles Lane went further, and proposed that murder related to a felony other than rape should no longer be a capital crime when there is only one victim killed. 
In the last several centuries, with the emergence of modern nation states , justice came to be increasingly associated with the concept of natural and legal rights . The period saw an increase in standing police forces and permanent penitential institutions. Rational choice theory , a utilitarian approach to criminology which justifies punishment as a form of deterrence as opposed to retribution, can be traced back to Cesare Beccaria , whose influential treatise On Crimes and Punishments (1764) was the first detailed analysis of capital punishment to demand the abolition of the death penalty.   Jeremy Bentham , regarded as the founder of modern utilitarianism, also called for the abolition of the death penalty.  Beccaria, and later Charles Dickens and Karl Marx noted the incidence of increased violent criminality at the times and places of executions. Official recognition of this phenomenon led to executions being carried out inside prisons, away from public view.