January 12, 2008
Should SCOTUS really be reviewing Missouri's lethal injection team?
One challenge for the death row inmates challenging a lethal injection protocol in the Baze case is that the execution record from Kentucky appears to be sound. But, thanks to this article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, we keep learning that the execution story from Missouri reads more like sensational fiction than fact. Here are snippets from the latest jaw-dropping discovery:
Before a Missouri executioner could go to Indiana in 2001 to help federal authorities put mass killer Timothy McVeigh to death, he had to take care of one detail: He needed permission from his probation officer to leave the state.
The request, by a licensed practical nurse from Farmington, set off alarms within the Missouri Division of Probation and Parole. At least one supervisor spoke out to an agency administrator. "As I stated to you previously, it seems bizarre to me that we would knowingly allow an offender, on active supervision, to participate in the execution process at any level," she wrote.
But that memo and others obtained by the Post-Dispatch show that high-level federal and state corrections officials did let the nurse make the trip — and continue to work on Missouri's lethal-injection team.
The use of someone with such legal troubles — two felonies plea-bargained down to misdemeanors for stalking and tampering with property — raises further questions about the expertise and backgrounds of the people the government entrusts to carry out the ultimate punishment.
Some related posts on Missouri's execution record: