The Missouri Supreme Court has decided it will not order more than one execution per month. A court source has told the Missourinet the policy has been enacted at the request of the Department of Corrections, which conducts executions at its prison in Bonne Terre.

The Department of Corrections has refused to explain why it asked the court to establish that practice or to make available any department officials to discuss the issue. A spokesman for Attorney General Chris Koster says he is aware of the policy but will not comment on it. About a year ago, Koster said that delays in setting execution dates threaten the state’s ability to administer capital punishment. He asked the court two years ago to set execution dates for nine inmates. One of them, Herbert Smulls, was executed in January. Another, Michael Worthington, is scheduled to die on August 6.

Executions have been held monthly since last November, except for May, when questions about Russell Bucklew’s physical fitness to be executed produced a court-ordered stay. The next execution scheduled is that of John Middleton next week. Another is set for August 6th.

But the Corrections Department has held multiple executions within single months seven times since the state legalized lethal injection. Three executions were done in August, 1997. Three inmates were executed within a three week period late in 1995. The most recent multiple-execution month is October, 2001. The most recent execution was that of John Winfield on June 15.