Thursday, 1 February 2007

Bredesen halts executions to rework lethal injection procedures

Bredesen halts executions to rework lethal injection procedures

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Gov. Phil Bredesen on Thursday postponed four pending executions, saying the state needs to rework its procedures for lethal injection.

Bredesen reiterated his support for the death penalty but said he was issuing temporary reprieves for four condemned killers because of concerns the state’s written protocol for execution isn’t specific enough.

“The document describes the drugs to be used, it doesn’t describe how much is to be used. That’s a huge failure of that document,” Bredesen said.

State officials want to complete a “comprehensive review” and reworking of the execution guidelines by May 2, the governor said.

“There’s no question in my mind the protocols are not adequate. that’s why we’re taking this action today,” Bredesen said.

The governor said he called for the review because of a case pending in federal court that challenges the state’s lethal injection process.

The ruling comes as states nationwide are scrutinizing lethal injection procedures. Florida placed a moratorium on executions after a lethal injection was botched. Executions also are halted in Missouri, California and North Carolina because of lethal injection

Tennessee has executed only two inmates since 1960.

The governor identified the inmates who got 90-day reprieves as Edward J. Harbison and Daryl Holton, who were to be executed later this month, and Michael J. Boyd and Pervis T. Payne, who were scheduled to be put to death in March.

Harbison, Boyd and Payne have been on death row since the 1980s while Holton was sentenced in 1999.

Once the protocols have been reworked and the reprieves have expired, the state Supreme Court is expected to reset their execution dates.

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