Sunday, 29 April 2007

(Not-so-)shocking execution concerns

(Not-so-)shocking execution concerns

Nebraska, the only state to still rely exclusively on the electric chair for carrying out death sentences, is scheduled to execute Carey Dean Moore on May 8. But, as this AP story details, a new execution protocol is ― surprise, surprise ― prompting legal challenges:

The state's new method of electrocution ― a single, sustained jolt instead of several shorter ones ― could leave the condemned's heart beating well after the shock, backers and foes of the protocol say. The macabre image of a strapped-down inmate, possibly brain dead but with a pulsating heart, could sharpen an already tense debate as Nebraska, the only state with the electric chair as its sole means of execution, prepares to put to death its first prisoner in a decade.

No one's sure the inmate's heart would continue to beat after the current stopped, but the possibility has caused a furor among capital punishment opponents since it was broached by the doctor who almost single-handedly revised Nebraska's execution protocol. Carey Dean Moore is to die May 8 through an untested system of sending 2,450 volts through his body for 20 seconds.

Death penalty opponents are stepping up legal challenges to the execution, mainly on the grounds that the chair is cruel and unusual punishment. And the Legislature narrowly defeated a bill last month that would have repealed the death penalty.

Some related posts about electrocutions and execution methods:

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