Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Transcript - The Florida Governor's Commission on the Administration of Lethal met again February 19, 2007

Transcript ( rough draft) :

Last December, condemned inmate Angel Diaz died in what many called a
botched execution. Just four months before Diaz’s death, the state
released a formal protocol detailing the steps to be used in
executions, including the doses and order of chemicals to be used.
[...] Today the panel reviewing the state’s lethal injection
procedures heard from a member of the execution team that the
protocol was not followed in the death of Angel Diaz.

The role of executioner is highly guarded, and the identities of
those who participate are protected by law; and so the voices of
members of the execution team who gave evidence for the Governor’s
Commission on Administration of Lethal Injection are modified -- to a
creepy effect.

Witness: “I participated in approximately 84 executions. I served as
resource to five states and to [..] the Federal Government.”

COMMENTATOR: For ethical reasons doctors are not allowed to
participate in killing people, even in state mandated deaths. In this
exchange, you will hear commission chair Bill Jennings of the Capital
Collateral Counsel asking a member of the execution team about his
medical qualifications. You’ll also hear the execution team member
answering and then Max Changus, the lawyer for the Department of
Corrections . During the questioning, Jennings rubbed his eyes with
frustration, and long pauses have been edited out.

Jennings: “And have you had medical training?”

Witness: “Yes.”

Jennings: “And have you had training above the nurses’ level?”

- pause -

Jennings: “I’m sorry - did you hear the question?”

Witness: “Yes. I’ve already explained my qualifications.”

Jennings: “Do you... Do you treat patients?”

Witness: “I’ll refer that question to Mr. Changus, for an answer.”

Changus: “Again, we’re - we’re dealing with this same issue... uh..
and that is that.. it’s been difficult for the members of the
commission as we’ve proceeded through these various meetings. I think
this person is.. uh.. evidencing some... uh.. concern about
identifying themselves as far as what they do.. uh... and what level
because it identifi... uh.. it might identify themselves personally.”

COMMENTATOR: Angel Diaz’s autopsy revealed that IVs in either arm had
punctured the vein, and that chemicals injected into him burned these
limbs for about a foot on each side. The Commission questioned the
medically qualified execution team member about the site of the IVs.
He answered that in Florida executions there has never before been
any problem with the IV site.

Witness: “Once the inmate is placed in the death chamber and the
final response from the Governor of the State of Florida is given,
there is nothing medical about the event. From this point onward, it
is not a medical procedure. There is nothing medical about it, nor to
equate to it. An execution has absolutely nothing even remotely
connected with medicine. The medical argument in the debate is false
when comparing executions, which [was] to include the settings. From
that point onward, the condemned inmate will not leave the death
chamber alive. The event is done as simply as possible to avoid
technical problems. It’s also done as expeditiously as possible, and
as humanely as can be done under the circumstances.

COMMENTATOR: The person in charge of pushing the chemicals into the
veins through the IV noticed more resistance than usual; so the team
took the chemicals, which need to be given in a certain order, and
continued on the other arm. When they had problems on that arm, they
moved back to the first arm. By this time, Angel Diaz had been given
almost two successions of the drug course used in lethal injection.
But Commission member, Judge Stan Morris noticed they had skipped
one of the drugs in the second course:

Judge Morris: “When you were explaining to us that once that inmate
is in the chamber and once this proceeding starts, he’s not going to
come out alive, and that it’s not a medical procedure. Is that
basically what this was about, that this was the way to conclude this
procedure by going directly to the third - after the saline flush -
directly to the third drug?”

Witness: “That would be an opinion.”

Judge Morris: “Well, I assume that there was some discussion about it
as you’ve related, and decisions made. And you’ve offered an
explanation about how this is not a medical procedure; I’m simply
asking: Was that part of the reason, that that choice was made as
opposed to administering the drugs in the order that they would
otherwise have been administered in?”

Witness: “You would want to use a flush to separate the chemicals..”

Judge Morris: “Right.. And they did, they used saline. But then they
went directly to the third chemical.”

Witness: “Yes.”

Judge Morris: “And is... was there any discussion or reason for
that... given?”

Witness: “That was a consensus.”

Judge Morris: “And that would be the lethal drug?”

Witness: “Yes.”

In the Department of Correction’s investigation into the execution,
three members of the execution team report that Angel Diaz asked:
“What’s happening?” twice during the procedure. Those witnessing the
execution from a separate observation room, say they saw Diaz wince
in pain and gasp for air during the injection. Yet, members of the
execution team said they did not see such things.

Dr. Bonita Sorensen was part of the DOC investigation. Sorensen said
that the protocol calls for an immediate debriefing after the
execution, but in this case it did not in fact take place until the
next morning.

Dr. Sorensen: “Generally we felt that the team members.. the
execution team members were surprisingly consistent in their testimony.”

COMMENTATOR: Just after the execution, the DOC chalked up the length
of time it took for Angel Diaz to die after the injections, and the
problems with the injections, on Diaz’s “poor liver function”. It
wasn’t until after the autopsy that it was found that the IVs had
pierced through the veins and the chemicals were released into the
soft tissue of his arm, slowing down the absorption rate and causing
burning. The director of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death
Penalty, Mark Elliot says, although limited, the Commission’s work is

Mark Elliot: “ They bring out this information which has never been
heard before; this voice has never been heard before, even in
disguise. This information is new information about what’s taking
place. They’re not going to get every answer that they would like.
They may get some answers they don’t like, but at least this
information is getting out in the public forum, so the public can
make informed decisions about what we want, what we think about
ourselves. This is not about the people on death row and what they’ve
done. This is about us and what we do.”

COMMENTATOR: The Commission will meet again for a workshop in Tampa
on Saturday.


Jeffery Wright said...

Life in prison with its daily exposure to rape, brutality and confinement is not only truly cruel, but it is also very unusual punishment. The gentle, sterile injection of lethal drugs is the merciful, easy way out. Pain, if any, would be very minimal if at all. And nothing compared to the pain of daily prison existence.

Grouch said...

This whole testimony is ludicrous as well as cointemptuous of the people. It woulod be be good comedy if not so tragic.
(1) Of course in a world where up is down, left is right, and black is white,this is not a medical procedure; a doctor's saying so does not define the real reality. Stcking veins, especially if a cutdown is used--not necessarily in this case-- certainly is not an accounting pr5ocedure. Hitting a vein properly is a skill that plumbers or TV repair men have; dertermining the state of consciousness in the extreme may not be a medical "procedure" but a medical determination. The needles or catheters used have onely one raison d'être-- thaty that is not to play football.
2) Each method in modern times of killing one another by state murder, has been hailed as humane, the electric chair, the fallbiel, the gas chamber, modern hanging, the garrotte,and the firing squad have all worked "well" at one time or another; all have also been horrible botched. Lethal injection, as used in Florida, does not work as it should, and the circus performance trying to hide the doctor's identity is Disneyland delux. Either change the protocol, or revert to the electric chair; after all only 2 heads in recent memory caught fire in Florida; iother states do not count. Florida pretends that the 36 other states don't exist.

Jack Kevorkian MD knew what he was doing when he killed his paients. Hewas successful because he treatedwhat he was doing as a medical procedure, niot a circus act. He would be a proper consultant.

Once a doctor, always a doctor; even Karl Brandt and Alex deCrinis were always doctors as well as the two most proliferic doctor killers of all time.

Lethal Injection was poorly conceived, badly executed, and disingenuously sold to the people. Disguard it!

G M Larkin MD