Sunday, 4 March 2007
South Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board
Posted March 4 2007
ISSUE: Execution panel can't
When executions are resumed in Florida, the issue of how much suffering is involved will not be answered.
That's fine. Not to be insensitive, but the important thing for the state of Florida is to get the execution procedure administered properly and efficiently. There is no real way to measure how much a convict suffers.
Former Gov. Jeb Bush suspended the death penalty after the botched execution of convicted killer Angel Diaz in December. That execution took twice as long as normal, after which an 11-member commission examined the entire execution process.
The recommendations presented to Gov. Charlie Crist last week don't address the issue of suffering, mainly because of conflicting information from witnesses and medical experts.
Absent definitive word, what's most important is, if Florida is going to indeed have a death penalty, all procedures and protocols must be followed properly.
The commission report calls for prison staff and execution teams on hand to be sure the inmate is unconscious before two extremely painful drugs are injected. There will also be increased training for execution teams, and the mix of chemicals may be reviewed.
Diaz' execution took 34 minutes because the needles were incorrectly inserted. It's up to the state of Florida to make sure personnel are trained to eliminate errors like that.
As for pain, it's questionable whether you can really eliminate all suffering from an execution. And how do you quantify it? The concern should be to administer the execution properly.
Eliminating procedural errors in an execution is the state's job. Eliminating any possibility of pain is not.
BOTTOM LINE: Worry about proper procedure, not possible pain.