Thursday, 8 February 2007

Wright joins request to suspend death penalty

Wright joins request to suspend death penalty

Raleigh On the eve of a historic discussion by the Council of State on the way North Carolina puts convicts to death, state Rep. Thomas Wright has joined 43 other Democratic lawmakers in asking Gov. Mike Easley to halt executions until the lethal injection method is shown to be constitutional.

Wright, D-New Hanover,was one of 14 state lawmakers who added their names Monday to a Jan. 23 letter to Easley signed by 30 legislators. No other Wilmington-area lawmaker has signed the letter, which comes at a moment when lethal injection is under review in nine states.

Governors of two states, Florida and Tennessee, have suspended executions while the method, which some argue has the possibility of causing suffering, is studied. The halt in Florida came in December after prison officials inserted needles into a convict's flesh, rather than his veins, causing chemical burns before his death.

Today, Easley will serve as chairman of a meeting of the Council of State, which will discuss how to proceed since the N.C. Medical Society has said its physicians may not participate in executions. A judge has also stayed two executions, in part because of changes to the method with respect to a doctor's presence were not approved by the council as required by law. Three executions had been scheduled between Jan. 26 and Friday.

"We respectfully ask that you suspend those and all other executions until our lethal injection procedures, which are identical to Florida's, can be reviewed fully," the lawmakers wrote.

The 9 a.m. council meeting will be broadcast over the Internet at

Mark Schreiner: (919) 835-1434

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