Saturday, 4 August 2007

Florida again alters rules to avert botched executions


Florida again alters rules to avert botched executions

Published August 4, 2007

TALLAHASSEE - Florida will train execution teams better and will require some members to be medical professionals in an attempt to avoid repeats of a botched December execution, according to documents made public Friday.

The changes are the second the state has made since it took 34 minutes - twice as long as normal - for a lethal injection to kill convicted murderer Angel Diaz, 55. Needles had been pushed through his veins into the flesh of his arms, reducing the effectiveness of the three chemicals used in executions.

The first round of changes included better training and communication, a clear chain of command for each execution and additional staffing.

But a judge questioned whether those revisions did enough to prevent "pain or lingering death."

Circuit Judge Carven D. Angel, who is hearing a challenge to the lethal injection procedures on behalf of death row inmate Ian Deco Lightbourne, last month suspended hearings until the state again updated its procedures.

The latest modifications contain language asserting that the main objective is "a humane and dignified death." Also new is a requirement to review the procedures at least once every two years.

Corrections Secretary James McDonough submitted the new version to Gov. Charlie Crist on Tuesday.

The changes were posted on the Florida Supreme Court Web site.

The most contentious suggestion in the first set of changes was for prison officials to explore newer chemicals and evaluate whether a paralytic drug should be administered.

The second set contains no change in the drugs. That will remain a key objection, said Neal Dupree, whose office represents death row inmates in the southern third of the state.

Dupree specifically objects to the second drug that is injected, pancronium bromide, which causes paralysis that makes it impossible for inmates to indicate whether they are in pain.

Executions were banned in Florida after Diaz's death. Crist lifted the moratorium last month when he signed a death warrant for Mark Dean Schwab, 38. Schwab raped and killed an 11-year-old boy in Brevard County.

[Last modified August 4, 2007, 00:33:39]

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