Thursday, July 19, 2007
Yesterday Florida governor Charlie Crist signed his first death warrant in seven months. The death penalty in Florida has been on hold since December 2006, when the botched execution of Angel Diaz — whose death took 34 minutes and required an uncommon second dose of lethal drugs to finally take his life — grabbed national attention. Cruel and unusual punishment indeed: You can read a full account of the execution here, but be forewarned, it's grisly.
Then-governor Jeb Bush put a moratorium on executions after Diaz's death, and created a commission to study why mistakes — like the executioner missing the vein in Diaz's arm and plunging the lethal drugs into arm tissue — happened. The commission made a bunch of recommendations, including better training, protocols, and closer examination of the use of chemicals that are excruciatingly painful if not administered correctly (PDF). Florida's new lethal injection protocol continues to use the same problematic chemicals (PDF). Despite this risk of extreme pain, Governor Crist is apparently ready to sign off on executions again — gambling on behalf of Florida inmates that the next execution will go smoother.
Apparently Governor Crist doesn't see the writing on the wall when it comes to capital punishment: a Gallup poll last year found that a majority of Americans favor life imprisonment to the death penalty.