Saturday, 7 April 2007

Lawyers doubt quick fix for executions

Friday, 04/06/07

Lawyers doubt quick fix for executions

State says it will be set to kill Workman May 9

If California, Missouri and Florida can't get an execution right in 90 days, Tennessee won't be able to, either, defense attorneys told prison officials Thursday.

"The reality is that 90 days is an unrealistic time frame to fix what was broken," said Kelley Henry, an assistant federal public defender who spoke at a public hearing on how Tennessee should put inmates to death.

In February, Gov. Phil Bredesen put a halt to all executions and ordered the Tennessee Department of Correction to come up with new protocols by May 2.

Commissioner George Little insisted Thursday that the state will be ready for an execution by that time.

Philip Workman, convicted in the slaying of a Memphis policeman in 1981, is scheduled to die May 9.

Officials at the Department of Correction hosted the meeting to let people talk about guidelines for executions.

Defense attorneys, doctors, pharmacologists and the public were invited.

Some speakers used the meeting to criticize capital punishment.

No doctors or pharmacologists spoke, and it wasn't clear if any attended the meeting, which lasted less than an hour.

Bredesen's order came after flaws in the process came to light, including that the guidelines didn't give dosage amounts for the three chemicals used in a lethal injection.

The governor has insisted that the two executions carried out since 1960, in 2000 and in 2006, were done correctly.

The governor's order came on the heels of a problematic execution in Florida in December that led to Gov. Jeb Bush ordering a moratorium.

Executions also have been halted in North Carolina, California and Missouri because of concerns over lethal injections.

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