GOULD, Ark. — Patricia Washington sees a simple calculus: If you take someone’s life, you better be prepared to lose your own.
The death penalty is just, she believes — an unsurprising view in this rural town a short drive from the state prison that houses death row. Executions have come up a lot lately in conversations at Washington’s work, a tiny eatery tucked into an Exxon service station off Highway 65.
As she carried trays brimming with chicken tenders, fried okra and corn nuggets one recent morning, she reflected on some of her regulars — the prison guards.
“There’s a lot on their mind. You can see it in their eyes,” Washington said.
Starting the day after Easter, the state is scheduled to execute eight men in 11 days, and people in Gould and across Arkansas are wondering how so many executions will affect prison staffers and color perceptions of this Bible Belt state. Two men will die each day on April 17, 20, 24 and 27.