Saturday, 10 November 2007

Round-Up of Lethal Injection Developments

In Florida, the Daytona Beach News Journal has an editorial, "Stop and go."
Will there be an execution next week or not?

In four separate rulings in other states, the U.S. Supreme Court seems to have put the practice of lethal injection on hold. Yet the Florida Supreme Court, in rulings last week and this week, gave the go-ahead to execute two inmates.

In light of the federal court's ruling, Florida's failure to stay the executions seems particularly cruel. Mark Dean Schwab, convicted in 1991 of the brutal rape-murder of Junny Rios-Martinez, is set to die in Florida State Prison on Thursday. Members of Junny's family are preparing to travel to north Florida to witness the execution -- if it takes place.

It would have made more sense for state authorities to put that execution and the scheduled killing of Ian Lightbourne on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court works out issues surrounding the death penalty. Such a stay would be less stressful on families of victims, who have to live through the buildup of anticipation only to face a last-minute stay. If the federal court follows its established pattern, such a stay is almost certainly coming.

For good reason. Lethal injection -- promoted as a pain-free way to end a condemned person's life -- has instead become a horror show.

Earlier coverage of Florida LI issues is here.

In North Carolina, the Raleigh News & Observer also carries an editorial, "Reasons for life."

The death penalty in North Carolina, as in other states that have it on the books, has fallen under a de facto moratorium at the behest of the Supreme Court. The court is considering appeals from inmates who contend that the commonly used method of lethal injection could lead to an unconstitutionally painful death.

Meanwhile, North Carolina's Medical Board is attempting to enforce a ban on doctors' participation in executions in any manner as a breach of professional ethics. At least, while executions here have been suspended, there will be no risk of putting someone such as Glen Chapman to death for crimes he may not have committed, after a trial that a judge now concludes was fatally unfair.

Earlier coverage of North Carolina LI issues is here and here.

House Minority Leader Jason Mumpower (R-Bristol) and House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada (R-Franklin) today asked both Gov. Phil Bredesen and Attorney General Bob Cooper to join as a “friend of the court” with the state of Kentucky in fighting to uphold lethal injection as a method to carry out the state’s death penalty law.

While the letter is the second by the House Republican leaders asking the Governor to join Kentucky as they appeal the case of Baze v. Rees, it is the first requesting that Attorney General Bob Cooper do so.

Earlier coverage of Tennessee LI issues is here and here.

Finally, reports the production of a new BBC documentary, "The Science of Killing."

These include The Science of Killing (working title, Optomen Television), an investigation into the most humane method of execution, hosted by politician and BBC2 regular Michael Portillo. Portillo uses a series of experiments to expose the flaws in existing methods such as the electric chair, gas chamber and hanging, and explores the controversy surrounding lethal injection.

The documentary index is here.

No comments: