Published Monday, January 1, 2007
Death penalty study will be among first items for new Legislature
The Associated Press
When lawmakers start their annual session this spring, one of the items they'll have to deal with is a report expected March 1 on whether changes are needed in the way the state carries out the death penalty.
Outgoing Gov. Jeb Bush created a commission to study the state's lethal injection process after last month's botched execution of Angel Nieves Diaz, who survived for more than a half hour after being given two doses of the lethal injection drugs.
Bush said there wouldn't be any executions until after a study, but the commission is charged with looking at whether improvements can be made to the way lethal injections are administered - not with whether the system should be scrapped.
At least two lawmakers on committees that will deal with the issue say the method of execution likely won't change.
"We don't need to reconsider the procedure," Rep. Mark Mahon, R-Jacksonville, told The Florida Times-Union newspaper of Jacksonville. "But we probably should reconsider training and how this is done, considering that these are being done in the name of the state and the people."
Sen. Nancy Argenziano, R-Dunnellon, who will be the chairwoman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee this year, said the strength of the drugs in the three drug mix should be examined.
So far, no legislation related to the lethal injection procedure has been filed, with lawmakers likely wanting to wait until the commission gives its recommendations.
Death penalty opponents claim Florida's lethal injection procedure violates the U.S. Constitution's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment, and condemned inmates have also pushed that issue in court, so far to no avail.
Charlie Crist, who becomes governor Tuesday, has said he will continue the execution moratorium until the study is complete.
Information from: The Florida Times-Union, http://www.jacksonville.com">http://www.jacksonville.com