Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Aspects of Padilla's treatment confirmed

Aspects of Padilla's treatment confirmed

A brig official confirms that the terrorism suspect had no timepiece or natural light -- and sometimes no light at all.
By Carol J. Williams, Times Staff Writer
February 28, 2007

MIAMI — With no clock, watch or natural light to guide him, terrorism suspect Jose Padilla was jailed at a Navy brig in timeless isolation while anonymous jailers monitored him around the clock, a brig official testified Tuesday.

The disclosures in a federal courtroom by Sanford Seymour, technical director of the Navy detention facility in Charleston, S.C., confirmed for the first time some of the conditions of Padilla's detention. His defense attorneys contend that Padilla's sensory deprivation and treatment were tantamount to torture.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke called Seymour and two other brig officials to testify in a hearing on Padilla's competency to stand trial on charges of conspiracy and material support to terrorism.

Cooke cautioned defense attorneys that they could only question the witnesses about their conversations with a federal Bureau of Prisons psychologist. A separate defense motion to dismiss the charges due to "outrageous government conduct" may open the torture issue at a later hearing.

The forensic psychologist, Rodolfo Buigas, testified Monday that Padilla suffered from anxiety and a personality disorder but was otherwise fit to proceed. But his report referred to the brig officials, so the judge had to allow defense attorneys to cross-examine them.

Padilla had refused to submit to psychological testing by Buigas, claiming to have repeatedly undergone examination since his May 2002 arrest at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. U.S. officials contend he spent at least six years abroad recruiting, plotting and bankrolling terrorism.

Two competency experts hired by the defense said last week that Padilla, 36, had sustained mental injury and post-traumatic stress disorder from his brig experience, leaving him incompetent to assist in his own defense.

Seymour, a civilian who oversees correctional procedures at the military brig, appeared reluctant to disclose details of the "special care" ordered by the federal government for Padilla.

Prolonged silences by Seymour followed each of federal Public Defender Michael Caruso's questions, as the witness waited for prosecutor Stephanie Pell to object, which she did at least a dozen times. When Cooke said he should answer, Seymour said he had "no specific recollection," asked to hear the question again, or gave a cryptic response.

What emerged from the cross-examination was that Padilla had little human contact during his 3 1/2 -year incarceration in the brig, that both windows in his cell were covered to create a blackout, and that the electric light in his cell could only be activated by jailers and was, like his Koran, unavailable for unspecified reasons or periods of time.

Caruso was prevented from pursuing matters of Padilla's detention other than those that Seymour had discussed with Buigas in an hourlong conversation the witness said occurred "several weeks ago."

Seymour said he neither offered nor was asked about the removal of Padilla's cell mirror, his access to showers or the length and frequency of the prisoner's interrogations. He confirmed that he had on a couple of occasions observed Padilla weeping.

Asked by Buigas about Padilla's claim to have been administered LSD by his interrogators, the corrections chief said he told the psychologist that the prisoner had been given a flu shot.

As to the defendant's general torture allegations, Seymour said he told Buigas: "I know of no physical abuse that occurred."

Brig psychologist Craig Noble also testified, confirming that he told Buigas of his two brief interactions with Padilla. The first was a mental health intake assessment on June 10, 2002, when Padilla arrived; the second was two years later when he interviewed Padilla through the "cuff hole" his cell door.

Noble said he found Padilla's mental health "unremarkable" both times. A defense attorney asked, based on brig records, whether Noble's contact with Padilla had lasted no more than two minutes, but the witness was not allowed to answer the question because Buigas hadn't asked about the duration.

Maj. Andrew Cruz, a brig social worker who had monthly contact with Padilla, was also summoned to testify. But he was recently deployed to Afghanistan, and did not answer a call that had been arranged for him to testify by speakerphone.

Cooke said she would hear final arguments on Padilla's competency today, but gave no indication when she might rule.

If Padilla is judged fit to proceed, his motion for dismissal for outrageous government behavior could prompt a hearing at which the brig abuse allegations would be more thoroughly explored. Padilla's trial is set for April 16.

More on executions methods and the role of doctors

February 23, 2007

More on executions methods and the role of doctors

Jeff Mead and Larysa Simms are taking over Wednesday's class to discuss "The Role of Physicians." Here is the text and readings they sent for everyone's pre-class consideration:


Before you enrolled in this death penalty class, your mind likely jumped to a single inference when you heard mention of an interface between the legal and medical professions: malpractice suits. However, after class on Wednesday, February 28, you should also gain insight into another important interface between the two professions: the death penalty (executions). In fact, the topic is enjoying the spotlight as the focal point of several current events. In preparation for our discussion on Wednesday, please read the brief articles linked below that will orient you to the issues underlying these current events associated with the medical profession's role in the death penalty. These articles will give you a taste of what we will explore further through class discussion, including the moral, philosophical, medical, political, legal and practical implications of the role of physicians in the death penalty.

Please also answer the following questions in the Comment Section of the blog before class on Wednesday:

  1. Why do you think this issue regarding the role of physicians in the death penalty has erupted at this particular time as opposed to any other time?
  2. Why has the American Medical Association (AMA) seen fit to act as the moral compass for its members? What are the implications of this AMA decree?
  3. What political machinations do you think are at play?
  4. Given our recently expanded understanding of the assorted methods of execution, what role, if any, do you think physicians should play in the death penalty?

Required readings:

New Lethal Injection Law in South Dakota

New Lethal Injection Law in South Dakota

The Rapid City Journal has, "Death penalty measure signed."

Gov. Mike Rounds on Friday signed HB1175, the state’s new death penalty law, which will take effect July 1.

The old law called for a two-drug cocktail. The new law is less descriptive and says death shall be inflicted by the intravenous injections of a substance or substances in a lethal quantity.

The law reads “any person convicted of a capital offense or sentenced to death prior to the effective date of this act may choose to be executed in the manner provided in this act or in the manner provided by South Dakota law at the time of the person’s conviction.”

That gives Page the right to choose whether to use a two-drug lethal injection or the three-drug one officials planned to use at his first scheduled execution last summer.

The two-drug cocktail would have used an ultra-short-acting barbiturate intended to put the inmate into a deep sleep and a chemical paralytic agent intended to stop his breathing.

The third drug is potassium chloride, which induces cardiac arrest.

Rounds stayed Page’s execution set for Aug. 28, 2006, just hours before the lethal injection was administered because prison officials were planning to use a three-drug method, rather than two drugs as outlined in state law.

Earlier coverage of South Dakota developments is here and here. More on lethal injection is here.

Regarding Cathy Henderson

Regarding Cathy Henderson

This is February and Cathy is alive. In twenty more days it will be March, and she will be alive all through March. But then April comes, and if the state of Texas and the courts have their way Cathy Henderson is not going to live past April 18th.

That is the date of her scheduled killing in the nation’s busiest killing chamber. They’ll take her around 5:30 in the evening to insert the IV tubes. As her spiritual advisor I’ll be allowed one last visit with her around 4:30 for just a half hour or so. Then the state-hired chaplain takes over. No matter that I know her, that I love her, care about her life, respect her life, have fought for her to live, and want to be with her during every minute of her last hours on this earth. No matter. In Texas’ cold protocol of death any chaplain will do. Get in there and do your God-thing. Get her ready to meet her Maker. We want her to have every spiritual benefit before we carry out the punishment. We’re not heathens. We don’t relish this death. Just doing our job, our duty. We respect that she has an immortal soul.

These words and the mentality they represent - using religion to bless the killing ritual - can be found in wardens’ mouths almost word for word in Dead Man Walking and The Death of Innocents.

It’s a weird, impossible task, counting the days toward Cathy’s death. In her last letter she wrote in unmistakable terms, “I’m absolutely not afraid of dying, but I’m worried about the poisons they’re going to inject into me.”

Cathy’s big focus now is on the suffering of her children, especially her youngest 17-year-old daughter. The poor kid is having a tough time concentrating in school, is fighting depression. Who can get their mind around such a bizarre reality, that the state is fully intent on killing this young woman’s mother? You’re going to kill my mother? And you’re telling me this is legal and good for society? Killing my mother?

I do not accept that Cathy is going to die. Her case sits now at this very moment in the hands of the Supreme Court. We pray, we hope, we wait. Our dedicated pro bono lawyer, George Cumming, the Man of the Hour, after consulting widely has put forth the most skilled arguments he knows to plead justice for Cathy before the high court. In the hope that the court will approve the petition, the firm has already hired an investigator and a neurological expert to do the thorough work that should have been done for Cathy in preparation for her original trial.

We’re praying for a miracle. The letters of love, of support and compassion have been pouring in – 1,550 of them and counting. This love avalanche pouring over Cathy, this is in no small way a miracle. Spread the word about Cathy. Invite people to the web page. Write to her. Send her beautiful scenes from nature.

And write to the suffering parents, the Baugh family, who are going through their own agonizing hell of loss of their three-month-old son. Pray for them. Surround them with love and compassion.

They all need it.

4 of 5 scheduled March executions in Texas

4 of 5 scheduled March executions in Texas

Joseph Nichols is scheduled to be executed by the state of Texas on March 7.

Kenneth Biros is scheduled for execution on Feb. 27, by the state of Ohio.

Read more about these and the other cases below -- and ACT!

Do Not Execute Joseph Nichols!

Joseph Nichols received a death sentence for his role in the murder of Claude Shaffer in 1980. Nichols was not the triggerman. Schaffer died of a single shot to the back, and Willie Ray Williams confessed to shooting him after Nichols exited the store. Williams was executed in 1995. Nichols' first trial was dismissed after jurors could not unanimously agree upon a punishment. Also, Nichols claims ineffective assistance of counsel

ACT NOW by contacting Gov. Rick Perry requesting that he stop the execution of Joseph Nichols!

Read More and Take Action at:>

Do Not Execute Kenneth Biros!

The state of Ohio is scheduled to execute Kenneth Biros on March 20 for the 1991 murder of Tami Engstrom.

At his trial, Biros' family members testified that his father was emotionally abusive, and that Biros suffered from depression, drinking problems, and schizoid personality disorder. Also, Biros claims ineffective assistance of counsel during part of his appeals.

ACT NOW by contacting Gov. Ted Strickland requesting that Kenneth Biros's execution be halted!

Read More and Take Action at:>

See and act on all current Execution Alerts at>

March 6: Robert Perez, TX>

March 7: Joseph Nichols, TX>

March 20: Kenneth Biros, OH>

March 28: Vincent Gutierrez, TX>

March 29: Roy Pippin, TX>

Death penalty forum rescheduled at church

Death penalty forum rescheduled at church

A free forum on Repeal of the Death Penalty, postponed due to February snows, has been rescheduled for March 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the Towson Unitarian Universalist Church, 1710 Dulaney Valley Road.

Co-sponsored by the Baltimore County League of Women Voters and the Towson Unitarian's Adult Education Committee, the forum is being organized by Maryland Citizens Against State Executions.

It will include presentations by the mother of a murder victim and a man who was sent to death row and later found innocent.

Legislation to repeal Maryland's death penalty has been filed in Annapolis and has the backing of Gov. Martin O'Malley.

Call 410-343-2072 for forum information.

This is a medical procedure

The argument that Maryland proposes, evaporates quickly; this is a medical procedure; sticking a human in a vein is nothing but a medical procedure, , with Goons playing doctor. Stop pussyfooting and admit that the procedure is medical; it looks medical, uses medical equipment on a medical stage. This is especially so if a cut-down is needed. To pretend that this form of murder is not a medical procedure is intellectually dishonest to oneself.

Ole Grouch
Charlotte NC USA

Order to recruit doctors for executions put on hold

Order to recruit doctors for executions put on hold

By Brian Witte
February 27, 2007

ANNAPOLIS -- Maryland officials can wait until pending legislation on capital punishment is resolved before complying with a federal court order requiring them to explore recruiting doctors to participate in executions, a federal judge has decided.
U.S. District Judge Benson Legg's court order underscores the impact of the death penalty debate in Annapolis. He issued the order in response to requests from both sides of the federal civil case involving death-row inmate Vernon Evans Jr.
"Given the recent and rapid changes in Maryland death-penalty law and state administration and in light of the bills introduced during the legislative session, the defendants request that their compliance with the court's order be suspended," lawyers for the attorney general's office wrote.
In a ruling in December, the state's highest court invalidated Maryland execution protocols and effectively halted the death penalty in the state. Capital punishment cannot resume in Maryland until the protocols are properly adopted under the Maryland Administrative Procedure Act or exempted from the act by the General Assembly.
A bill in Annapolis would exempt the protocols from the act's requirements. If approved, it would go into effect June 1.
Another measure would repeal the death penalty in Maryland, replacing it with a sentence of life in prison without parole.
Judge Legg's order, which was issued Thursday, came a day after Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, testified in Annapolis last week in favor of repealing the death penalty. It requires lawyers for the state and Evans to file a status report every 90 days.
Lawyers for Evans contend that personnel who carry out lethal injections are not qualified to know whether an inmate is properly anesthetized before being put to death.
They argue that their client's veins are so damaged from intravenous drug use that current execution protocol would subject him to "an unnecessary risk of unconstitutional pain and suffering."
Evans' lawyers have asked the federal judge to require the state to add a general surgeon and either an anesthesiologist or a certified nurse anesthetist to the lethal-injection team.
Attorneys for the state have argued that such specialists are not needed because an execution is not a medical procedure and execution team members are qualified to carry out the process.
The state also has argued that finding such specialists would be difficult. The American Medical Association, the American Society of Anesthesiologists and the American Nurses Association strongly discourage members from taking part in lethal injections.

But Evans' lawyers have argued that there are medical specialists willing to take part.
During a federal court hearing in November in Baltimore, Judge Legg emphasized that he had not made a decision. However, he wrote in December that to decide the case, he must balance the potential harm to the plaintiff if the relief is withheld against the burden to the defendant if the relief is granted. To do that, he wrote, the court has to assess how difficult it would be for the state to recruit the medical specialists whom Evans' attorneys want on the execution team.
The judge had asked the state to "explore the feasibility of recruiting the following specialists: a general surgeon and either a (certified registered nurse anesthetist) or an anesthesiologist."
Initially, the judge had set a deadline for tomorrow for the state to submit a written plan describing the parameters of a proposed search.
Laura Mullally, an assistant attorney general who is working on the case, declined to comment yesterday.
Evans was sentenced to die for the murders of Scott Piechowicz and his sister-in-law, Susan Kennedy, in 1983. It was his appeal to the Maryland Court of Appeals that prompted the ruling in December invalidating the state's execution protocol.

Monday, 26 February 2007

Federal Judge Postpones Maryland Lethal Injection Case

Federal Judge Postpones Maryland Lethal Injection Case

Annapolis - Monday February 26, 2007 1:14 pm

A federal judge says the state won't have to comply with a court request in the legal fight over execution procedures until the state legislature can consider pending death penalty legislation.

Maryland was previously directed to report to the court on the prospects of recruiting doctors to participate in executions. The reprieve granted last week will allow time for lawmakers to consider a proposed repeal of the death penalty statute and legislation exempting the lethal injection protocols from the requirements of Maryland Administrative Procedure Act.

Attorneys for death-row inmate Vernon Evans have argued that medical specialists should be members of lethal injection teams. The state has argued that executions are not medical procedures and that finding such specialists would be difficult.

Evans was sentenced to die for the murders of two Pikesville motel employees in 1983. His appeal to the Maryland Court of Appeals prompted a December ruling invalidating the state's execution protocol.

Recommendations coming on reducing errors in executions

Recommendations coming on reducing errors in executions

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Opponents of Florida's death penalty say there needs to be more scrutiny of the lethal injection process.

The commission examining last year's botched lethal injection execution will recommend a handful of changes to Florida's death row procedures this week.

But the panel will leave the hardest questions about the death of convicted killer Angel Diaz unanswered.

Members of the commission say conflicting information from execution witnesses, prison staff and medical experts makes it hard to arrive at any definitive findings about the December 13th execution. That execution took twice as long as normal and required a rare second dose of lethal chemicals.

Critics of the death penalty system in Florida say the commission's inability to determine what happened during the execution of Angel Diaz is evidence that there needs to be more scrutiny of the execution process.

Sheila Hodges of the Florida Catholic Conference calls it a “horrendous, painful and troubling experience.”

On this day in history Amos King was killed innocent in Florida by lethal injection

February 26 is a special day in my life

This is the day Amos King was killed innocent by Florida

Until the last minute of his life he insisted on his innocence.

Florida did not listen

They never do.

The real killer is still walking the streets of Florida

I often wonder how many more lifes he has managed to kill .

Because it was more important for Florida to continue its killing process

then it was to stop the real killer.

How many more years will this Florida nightmare go on

I wonder ...

William Mathews attended 20 executions by 1990 - how many today ???

(Attachment 8 to DOC Report)

(App. 9 ) . To the same effect was the affidavit of William

Mathews :

Before me this day personally appeared

William F. Mathews, Physician's Assistant-

Certified, Florida State Prison, who being

duly sworn, deposes and says:

I have participated in approximately

twenty-plus (20) elective executions in the

State of Florida as a Medical professional.

As such, I have witnessed a variety of bodily

responses to the electrocution process.

the Death Chamber at Florida State Prison

during the execution of Inmate Jessie Tafero.

William Mathews active role is evident in this execution and the ongoing botched executions

There was the hum again, and the body

reeled again. Five-inch flames quickly

burned from the left side of the shroud, and

smaller ones burned to the right. It was

7:lO a.m.

The hum was gone again, perhaps in 30



now part of the fist.

heartbeat. After a pause, one prison doctor,

then another, checked for the inmate's pulse

and heartbeat.

But the body did not relax this

The little finger on the left hand was

There was no breathing or visible

At 7:13 a.m., Frank Kilgo, the prison's

chief health officer, spoke in Barton's


Then Davis walked ..

and so :


entering the Witness Room, I took a seat in

the center of the second row, immediately

behind Mr. Rankin Brown. The inmate (Jessie

Tafero) was escorted into the Death Chamber

and was secured into the chair. He gave a

brief statement and the final restraints were

applied. The order was given to carry out

the final sentence.

As the electric current was flowing, a

It extended approximately twelve

blue-orange flame appeared from both sides of

the mask.

inches on both sides. When the power

stopped, the flames disappeared. I observed

what appeared to be deep breaths taken by

Tafero and, after a few seconds, another

charge was given.

When the power was started again, the

flames reappeared. I observed movement by

the right index finger of Tafero and, after

the power stopped, the flames disappeared.

Once again, I observed what appeared to be a

couple of deep breaths from Tafero.

power was administered the third time and,

once again, the appearance of the flames.

When the power ended, so did the flames. A

cloud of smoke filled the upper space of the

Chamber after each power surge. The head

attachment appeared to be leaning slightly to

the inmate's left. The two Medical staff

checked for pulse and at 7:13 a.m., Tafero

was pronounced dead.

Witness Room.


We were ordered to depart the Execution

(Affidavit of Gary L. McLain, Deputy Inspector General)

The execution team members in the botched execution of Jesse Tafero

At approximately 7:OO a.m. on the early morning of May 4,

1990, Jesse Tafero was escorted into the Death Chamber at the

Florida State Prison to be executed. Inside the chamber with Mr.

Tafero were:

Superintendent Tom Barton;

L. E. Turner, Assistant

Superintendent for Operations;

Lt. Don Davis, Administrative


A. D. Thorton, Chief Correctional Officer;

Dr. Frank Kilgo, Chief Medical Officer;

Bill Mathews, Physician's Assistant;

Ron Thornton, Maintenance Construction Supervisor;


A1 Martin, Assistant Maintenance Construction Supervisor. (DOC

Report at l)(App. 9 ) .

witnesses, including two former Florida Highway Patrol officers,

in addition to various other law enforcement officers and

Department of Corrections personnel.

designated members of the National and Florida Media Corps,

In the witness room were the official

Also in attendance were the


McGarraghan of the Miami Herald; Bruce Ritche of the Florida

Times Union; Mark Davis of the Tampa Tribune; Ronald Word of the

Associated Press; and Larry Keller of the Ft. Lauderdale Sun

Sentinel. Other individuals including Gary McClain of the

Inspector General's Office of the Department of Corrections and

the Rev. Robert Baker were also present to witness. The

Cynthia Barnett of the Gainesville Sun; Ellen

%lnfortunate circumstances . . . result[ing] in the rather

bizarre visual accounts of the execution" (App. 9, DOC report),

were now only six minutes away. Cynthia Barnett described what

happened next:

People told me what executions would be



They used adjectives like sterile,

Another reporter who had seen one told

me a toddler could be standing in the middle

of the death chamber during an execution at

Florida State Prison and never know what


happened to Jessie Joseph Tafero, a man whose

execution was far from sterile.

But a toddler would have known what

Tafero was led into the death chamber

Friday morning at 7 : 0 2 .

perhaps with fear, but he appeared brave --

Experimental medical research on inmates is on the rise.

The Prison As Laboratory
Experimental medical research on inmates is on the rise.

he voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential,” reads the Nuremberg Code of 1947, which was drafted in direct response to the sheer barbarity of Nazi-era medical experiments on Jews and other captive groups. “[The] person involved should have legal capacity to give consent; should be so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion.”

Yet in a convenient disassociation from the ethical implications of the Nuremberg Code, the United States became the only nation in the world to officially sanction the use of prisoners in experimental clinical trials. From the ’40s through the early ’70s, American doctors regularly injected and infected inmates with malaria, typhoid fever, herpes, cancer cells, tuberculosis, ringworm, hepatitis, syphilis and cholera in repeatedly failed attempts to “cure” such diseases. Doctors in prisons pulled out prisoners’ fingernails and inflicted flash burns to approximate the results of atomic bomb attacks and even conducted various “mind-control” experiments using isolation techniques and high doses of LSD, courtesy of the CIA.

By 1972, the pharmaceutical industry was doing more than 90 percent of its experimental testing on prisoners. The appeal and the advantages of an always accessible, highly controlled study group were obvious to researchers and trial sponsors alike; and, as researchers liked to point out, inmates themselves were eager to do something good for society, make money, or win favorable treatment or early release. But failures of these research studies often had devastating results on their captive subjects.

In October 2000, nearly 300 former inmates filed suit against the University of Pennsylvania, dermatologist Albert M. Kligman and corporate giants Dow Chemical and Johnson & Johnson for injuries, lingering physical illnesses and psychological trauma suffered as a result of experimental research conducted at Holmesburg Prison in Philadelphia between 1951 and 1974. The lawsuit, now pending in federal district court, alleges that University of Pennsylvania researchers deliberately exposed prisoners to dangerous and toxic substances without informing them of the attendant risks. The experiments—which formed the focal point of Allen M. Hornblum’s 1998 book Acres of Skin—included the application of powerful skin creams, new cosmetics, dioxin and high doses of LSD.

The majority of the plaintiffs are low-income African-American men who were paid $2 to $3 per day for lending their bodies to “science” while incarcerated. The majority of these former prisoners have died, according to Thomas M. Nocella, the attorney representing the plaintiffs; of those still alive, all are in poor health. Now in their fifties and sixties, the men and women suffer from breathing problems, gynecological complications, and all manner of skin rashes and infections. The Holmesburg suit comes on the heels of a $2.4 million settlement awarded in March 2000 to a group of former Washington State prisoners whose testicles had been sliced up and radiated in experiments from 1963 to 1973.

This grossly perverted “era of experimentation” in prisons should be an unpleasant and distant memory. From the late ’70s through the early ’90s, a variety of state and federal laws, as well as carefully worded university regulations regarding the protection of human subjects, brought rampant prison experimentation to a screeching halt. American Correctional Association policy generally prohibits the use of inmates for medical, pharmaceutical or cosmetic experiments.

But evidence has emerged that prison-based research studies are again being conducted in numerous states—including Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Texas—and that hundreds of clinical trials and experimental therapies may have subjected prisoners to unjustifiable medical risks, in clear violation of existing federal regulations.

esearch involving human subjects has become big business. Currently, more than 10,000 programs and an estimated 45,000 researchers conduct medical research on humans in the United States. With some 2 million Americans now behind bars, prisoners are increasingly being viewed in utilitarian terms by researchers eager to test experimental procedures on an array of chronic medical problems, ranging from asthma to cancer. Prisoners represent a particularly compelling and convenient test group for anti-viral medicines and vaccines: At least 17 percent of people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States have spent time in correctional facilities, and the HIV rate in prisons is believed to be six times greater than in the outside population. In addition, prison populations have the highest concentrations of Hepatitis C in the country; from state to state, between 20 to 60 percent of inmates are believed to harbor the virus.

Revelations about medical research on prisoners began to come to light when the federal Office of Human Research Protections (OHRP), a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, suspended federally funded research projects at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston because the university had not followed federal regulations aimed at protecting research-study volunteers. Of some 300 studies suspended in July 2000, 195 involved Texas prisoners; another 25 studies were brought to a halt in September 2000.

The OHRP would not provide any details about the studies and clinical trials, most of which involved treatments for HIV and AIDS, according to reports in the Austin American-Statesman. Dr. David Paar, director of the AIDS Care and Clinical Research Program at UTMB, also declined to comment on the state of clinical research at the facility, pending the results of an “ongoing inquiry.” But documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request offer insight into the types of studies conducted on prisoners at UTMB. A September 14, 2000 letter from the OHRP to UTMB listed numerous research projects that did not fall into any of the categories of permissible research on prisoners, finding “scant evidence” that the university’s institutional review board followed federal regulations when it reviewed and approved the studies.

According to federal regulations, research in prisons must fit into one of four permissible categories: studies of the possible causes and effects of incarceration and criminal behavior; studies of prisons as institutional structures or of prisoners as incarcerated persons; research on conditions affecting prisoners as a group; and research involving a therapy likely to benefit the inmate involved. In all cases, studies are required to present no more than a “minimal” risk to the prisoner. Yet in many of the clinical trials reported to the OHRP, those regulations were clearly violated. “Those sorts of things put us on guard,” says Jackie Walker of the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. “Boundaries were clearly overstepped.”

he listed studies included those on induction of labor among pregnant inmates; a study of different methods of obtaining biopsies from inmates; a Phase I clinical trial (used to test a new drug or treatment for the first time in a small group) involving an experimental HIV vaccine; and another using a new experimental therapy of the intrahepatic (directly into the liver) delivery of a powerful chemotherapy drug.

Perhaps most shocking was a Phase I study, ongoing since 1997, that used prisoners to test a radically experimental approach to treating lung cancer. In that study, the prisoner was anesthetized and then connected to a machine called the BioLogic-HT System. According to the consent form, the test subject would agree to be heavily sedated and then to have tubes inserted into veins in the leg and neck to obtain blood. The blood removed from the volunteer would then be heated by the machine and returned to the body, inducing a dangerously high body temperature of 108.5 degrees and resulting in a sustained “hyperthermia” for two hours. (Dr. Joseph Zwischenberger did not respond to a list of questions about the study he directed.)

The consent form for the study cites a long list of serious potential side effects, including brain and spinal cord damage, loss of limbs, heart attack, hallucination, memory loss, burns at body pressure points, congestive heart failure, internal bleeding, seizures and death. While consent forms for experimental studies typically do list a wide array of possible complications, this form carried the additionally disturbing warning that the university would not compensate a research subject in case of injury. Participants in the study signed a form that read: “ I understand that I cannot ... receive financial remuneration for any injuries resulting from my participation in this project.”

Federal regulations specifically prohibit any language in informed consent documents whereby a subject is made to release, or appear to release, the investigator or the institution from liability for negligence. “The protection of all human research subjects, including prisoners who volunteer for research, is paramount,” explains Dr. Michael A. Carome, director of the OHRP’s Division of Compliance Oversight.

Yet while UTMB was given specific guidance on how to improve its reporting, reviewing and informed consent procedures, at no point, confirms the OHRP, were any of the prisoners in these studies interviewed about their experiences as test subjects. Paperwork was submitted by the university in response to concerns raised by the OHRP. On the basis of that paperwork—although no further site visits were made—the researchers were given the go-ahead by the OHRP in mid-January 2001 to resume their work, although it is unclear which of the objectionable studies were allowed to continue. No information was furnished in response to a detailed FOIA request, and UTMB officials declined to answer questions about the trials by phone or e-mail.

exas isn’t the only university to come under scrutiny for its experiments on prisoners. In 2000, the OHRP also directed the University of Miami to suspend enrollment of volunteers in a medical study of juvenile inmates, noting the existence of three other university studies involving prisoners that had not been reported to the appropriate federal office. In addition, the OHRP instructed the University of Florida, Yale University and Brown University to drastically improve their reporting and oversight procedures for several studies involving prisoners. Researchers and administrators at the three institutions did not respond to requests for information about ongoing studies involving prisoners, although Brown noted that a study in the Philippines examining STDs and the high-risk behaviors of female prisoners had ended.

Recent examples of invasive and potentially dangerous experiments have not only raised concerns about the diligence of universities in protecting the well-being of prisoners. They’ve also thrown into question the OHRP’s ability to keep tabs on federally funded studies involving human subjects. Carome confirms that his office still has not collected data on the number of prisoners participating in medical research studies. “This type of data has not been previously collected,” he explains, “nor am I aware of any plan to collect such data in the future.”

As such, no national estimates exist for how many prisoners are enrolled in federally funded clinical trials or research studies. Furthermore, the OHRP does not keep tabs on failed research studies or prisoner deaths. Independent of federal oversight, privately funded clinical trials have even less of a chance of meeting with public scrutiny. “Most drug trials fail,” notes Dr. David Egilman, a professor at Brown and critic of medical research on prisoners. “Drug companies don’t publish those failures so that their competitors will repeat the same mistakes.”

Last year, the National Bioethics Advisory Committee called for regulations requiring doctors to reveal their financial interests to patients and for drastic changes in the existing federal oversight of research involving humans. A Senate hearing in May addressed the concerns of family members who had lost relatives to questionable medical research. And some critics want to see the OHRP separated from the Department of Health and Human Services because of the inherent conflicts of promoting and regulating studies conducted on humans. But change is likely to be slow in coming, since medical research enjoys heavy pharmaceutical funding and federal government support.

At a medical research summit held in Washington, D.C. in March, more than 200 researchers, medical ethicists and administrators gathered to discuss, among other issues, the disclosure of financial ties between clinical-trial researchers and pharmaceutical companies. When questions about federal oversight of studies involving human subjects were raised, Dr. Thomas Puglisi, the former director of compliance for the Office of Protection from Research Risks (now the OHRP) said: “What we’ve got from the regulatory standpoint is a mess. I couldn’t say that when I worked for the federal government, but I can say that now.”

he resurgence of medical research on prisoners has sparked renewed debate about its ethical implications. AIDS researchers, medical and legal experts, ethicists, and prisoner advocates convened a meeting in October 1999 at Brown University to develop detailed guidelines for medical research that would do more to protect prisoners. Those guidelines have since “languished,” says Dr. Anne De Groot, one of the conference organizers and director of the TB/HIV lab at the Brown University School of Medicine. But Eligman says researchers were asking the wrong question. “Instead of asking how prison research should be done,” he says, “they should be asking if it should be done at all.”

The National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects, which provides ethical guidance to the OHRP, has found that prisoners often volunteer for medical research as a means of accessing competent medical care. The OHRP’s own guidebook states that “prisoners and patients in mental institutions are confined under the strict control of people whom they must please and to whom they must appear cooperative and rational if they are to earn their release. These potential subjects may believe ... that agreeing to participate in research will be viewed positively by their wardens, psychiatrists, or social workers.”

Last year, the St. Petersburg Times reported that some HIV-positive prisoners in the clinical trials may have been pressured to enroll in those studies. Several inmates specifically told the newspaper they had agreed to participate in the studies “to escape poor medical care, abusive conditions or lack of access to up-to-date HIV drugs at other Florida prisons.”

Jeffrey Kahn, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Minnesota, believes that prison represents such a captive environment that researchers should use inmates for research only when the research could benefit prisoners as individuals or as a group. He adds, “Research policy must balance preventing the exploitation of subjects against overprotecting groups [so] that they lose out on the research benefits offered to others.”

In this way, researchers overseeing clinical trials in prisons have stressed the potential benefits of such studies to seriously ill prisoners themselves. “Incarcerated populations may not have access to cutting-edge therapies except through clinical investigation,” says Dr. David Thomas, director of health services at the Florida Department of Corrections.

Indeed, numerous prisoner-advocacy groups, as well as groups such as the National Minority AIDS Council, are quick to point out that not all prisoners involved in research studies have been unwitting or unwilling participants. Increased access to clinical trials, they note, serves an important purpose for prisoners with chronic illnesses, given that medical care in prison is generally substandard. “Our position is that prisoners should not be excluded from trials that are efficacious, that are going to improve their health, and that they would normally have access to if they were in the community,” notes Walker of the ACLU. “But we also don’t want prisoners to be used as guinea pigs for trials that companies wouldn’t complete in the community.”

Silja J.A. Talvi is a Seattle-based journalist and an editor of LiP Magazine.

Of course, by attempting to correct one problem, our legislators created another

Of course, by attempting to correct one problem, our legislators created another. Suppose a doctor is "watching" an execution, and sees something gone real wrong; he cannot convey this to the executioner, so hid standing there twiddling his thumbs has no meaning. Is the doctor obliged to jump in, either in attempt to "resuscitate" the inmate, and by doing so establishes a doctor-patient relationship -- good Samaritan situation, or does he now break his oath and "does harm"?

Or if s/he does nothing, his/her being present has no real purpose. I question whether a doctor seeing his patient the first (and last) time can detect the pain of potassium chloride "burning" up his endothelium, or the meanderings of the dying process, which makes the law still more ridiculous.

Even the vets frown on using the cocktail on our faithful pets as being too painful for them; surely a man or woman deserves better not worse.

The whole procedure was conceived badly, and as we have seen, has gotten worse. If there must be a death penalty, use a guillotine; as far as we know, there is no pain, and the job is done in less than 1/4 second, and it is awfully hard to botch, even for a Goon.

G M<>
Charlotte NC USA

Vatican Says Death Penalty Is "Affront to Human Dignity"

Vatican Says Death Penalty Is "Affront to Human Dignity"

In a position paper issued this month during the World Congress Against the Death Penalty in Paris, the Vatican said that the death penalty "is not only a refusal of the right to life, but it also is an affront to human dignity." Echoing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the paper noted that while governments have an obligation to protect their citizens, "today it truly is difficult to justify" using capital punishment when other means of protection, such as life in prison, are possible. The Vatican also gave support to all international campaigns to proclaim a moratorium on the use of capital punishment and the abolition of the death penalty worldwide.


In a position paper issued this month during the World Congress Against the Death Penalty in Paris, the Vatican said that the death penalty "is not only a refusal of the right to life, but it also is an affront to human dignity." Echoing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the paper noted that while governments have an obligation to protect their citizens, "today it truly is difficult to justify" using capital punishment when other means of protection, such as life in prison, are possible. The Vatican also gave support to all international campaigns to proclaim a moratorium on the use of capital punishment and the abolition of the death penalty worldwide.

"The Holy See takes this occassion to welcome and affirm again its support for all initiatives aimed at defending the inherent and inviolable value of all human life . . . . Consciences have been awakened by the need for a great recognition of the inalienable dignity of human beings and by the universality and integrity of human rights, beginning with the right to life," the Vatican stated. The Holy See added that the death penalty carries "numerous risks," including the danger of punishing innocent people, and that capital punishment promotes "violent forms of revenge rather than a true sense of social justice." The paper concluded that the death penalty contributes to a "culture of violence" and that for Christians it shows "a contempt for the Gospel teaching on forgiveness."
(Catholic News Service, February 7, 2007). See New Voices and Religion.

No doctors can monitor N.C.'s executions, so they stop

No doctors can monitor N.C.'s executions, so they stop

By Steve Hartsoe
Associated Press

A legal and ethical bind has brought executions to a halt in North Carolina: A federal judge ruled that a doctor must monitor the condemned for signs of pain. But the state's medical board has threatened to punish any doctor who takes part in an execution.

The result: Gov. Mike Easley says no more executions until the state can "untangle this Gordian knot."

Challenges to lethal injection - namely, whether it violates the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment - have effectively placed executions on hold in 11 states. The question of doctor participation has figured in some of those disputes.

"It's an inherent flaw of lethal injection that, in order to be reliably humane, it requires the participation of a group of people who are under ethical constraints and considerations," said Mark Heath, an anesthesiologist at Columbia University Medical Center who has studied lethal-injection cases across the nation.

Death-penalty foes and others worry that, if the three-drug combination is administered improperly, the condemned could suffer excruciating pain while immobilized and unable to cry out. Some suspect that is what happened during a botched execution in Florida in December.

Doctors or other medical specialists play some role in a majority of the 38 states with a death penalty, according to Deborah Denno, a Fordham University law professor. But the procedures in many states are vague or even secret, and Denno said she was not aware of any state where a doctor actually administers lethal injections.

Instead, physicians are generally on hand to observe the execution and, in some cases, ensure the injections are administered properly, and pronounce the inmate dead.

In North Carolina, state law requires only that a doctor be present, and that rule has apparently been observed over the years. But last April, a federal judge went further, and said executions could proceed only if a doctor monitored the inmate to prevent pain.

The American Medical Association has said for more than 20 years that physicians who take part in executions violate medical ethics, but the organization has no power to punish. That job falls to the state medical boards that license doctors.

In January - in light of the apparent conflict between the judge's ruling and the Hippocratic oath to "first, do no harm" - the North Carolina Medical Board declared that doctors who do anything "that facilitates the execution" can face disciplinary action.

That dispute, in part, led a state judge to put three executions on hold.

"They seem to have drawn a line in the sand that other medical boards have not done at this point," said Jonathan Groner, an associate professor of surgery at Ohio State University who opposes the death penalty. "I think a lot of us have tried to say, 'Hey, medical boards, you need to do something about this,' but the boards are doctors who have a hard time punishing fellow doctors."

Drew Carlson, a spokesman for the national Federation of State Medical Boards, said the organization was not aware of a medical board reprimanding a doctor for involvement in an execution.

But that possibility was enough to help halt executions in North Carolina, a state where death-penalty opponents have tried for years to persuade lawmakers to suspend capital punishment.

"I wish we had gone to them years earlier," said Stephen Dear of People of Faith Against the Death Penalty, in Carrboro. "We should have."

Elsewhere around the country, a federal judge in Missouri last year ordered reforms to the state's lethal-injection procedures, including the use of a doctor specializing in anesthesia. The state has appealed, arguing that it would not be able to find anyone willing to take part.

In California, a federal judge ordered that anesthesiologists or other licensed medical professionals certify that a condemned inmate was unconscious. No medical professional was willing to participate.

In Florida late last year, Jeb Bush, governor at the time, suspended executions after executioners apparently inserted the needles clear through the veins and into the flesh of convicted killer Angel Nieves Diaz. He required a second dose of lethal chemicals. Some witnesses said he appeared to be in pain. An autopsy found chemical burns on his arms.

A medical professional monitored the Diaz execution, but his name and qualifications have not been disclosed because state law protects his anonymity.

In some states, including Arkansas, the medical board specifically allows medical personnel to take part in executions. In others, including Texas - which leads the country with nearly 400 executions since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976 - the board has no policy. In Texas, a doctor arrives after the lethal drugs are administered, and pronounces the inmate dead.

Sunday, 25 February 2007

A Florida butcher - called medical expert - disclosed in Florida

During the commission`s work, it has been disclosed to the public that Florida executions have for years been managed by the most cruel and hardened Florida butcher

A person, who under a professional medical identity, has managed to make anyone believe that
Florida had some kind of humane control over the execution situation

Florida medical society has quietly liscenced and supported this butcher as part of its own medical professional wing and let him be free to continue to torture helpless human lifes under a professional flag

This is outrageous.

These words tell it all :

Witness: “Once the inmate is placed in the death chamber and the
final response from the Governor of the State of Florida is given,
there is nothing medical about the event. From this point onward, it
is not a medical procedure. There is nothing medical about it, nor to
equate to it. An execution has absolutely nothing even remotely
connected with medicine. The medical argument in the debate is false
when comparing executions, which [was] to include the settings. From
that point onward, the condemned inmate will not leave the death
chamber alive.

The doctor`s perception of his own personal role in the death chamber - to secure that the inmate will not leave the death chamber alive - is nothing but a serious expression of this person`s dangerous psychological problems, which has never been investigated, examined and confronted by psychological experts, because he is lead to personally and secretely work under the protection of Florida DOC, Florida Governor, Florida FDLE, Florida Health Department,Florida politicans and judges and justices of the Florida courts

This is outrageous

And this has continued for years in Florida - after botched execution after botched execution has this totally incompetent execution team been allowed to botch and torture helpless persons.

Where is the psychological examination of these execution team persons and the persons, politicans and officials who have set themselves in the position of continuing this torture?

And this has happened on and on again in spite of numerous warnings from those who were partly able to look in and observe this nightmare.

Just denial

Just easy fixes

Just manipulative excuses and avoidance.

Where are the floridians, who have let these people in power positions?

Witness: “I participated in approximately 84 executions. I served as
resource to five states and to [..] the Federal Government.”

This dangerous individual put in a power-position by Floridas leading politicians
protected under The World Medical Society`s professional wing in Floridas history over years
is one of the worst american scandals now slowly disclosed to the world.




The world is watching.

NORTH CAROLINA----inmate seeks do drop appeals and be executed

North Carolina - inmate seeks to drop appeals and be executed

Inmate: Don't delay execution----A state policy dispute has halted 4 other lethal injections. Allen Holman wants his shot

Allen Holman wants to be executed. But with North Carolina's death penalty on hold, the state may not be able to fulfill his death wish.

Prison officials set Holman's execution for March 9. Four other death row inmates have seen their executions indefinitely delayed by filing lawsuits about a doctor's role in the death chamber.

A recent policy issued by the medical board forbids doctors from participating, but the state has been ordered to have a doctor there to monitor the proceedings.

Holman, 47, of Morrisville, has yet to file a lawsuit seeking a halt. He fired his lawyers. He dropped his appeals. He once wrote a judge demanding that he be executed. "I'm requesting the state of North Carolina's justice system to do their jobs of seeing my sentence carried out to the fullest!!" Holman wrote in 2002.

Holman isn't the only one who wants to see his execution go forward. His stepdaughter is ready to witness the injection of lethal drugs into the man who killed her mother.

"I'm really hoping and praying that this will happen," said Deborah Hartless, 39, of Baltimore. In July 1997, Holman shot Linda Holman to death in the parking lot of an Apex convenience store.

Hartless said she was surprised that Holman took his stepchildren into consideration when he decided to drop his appeals.

Last year in federal court, Holman testified, "I would like closure for me and all my ... everybody connected to my case," Holman said. "I would like to drop my appeals and the state to carry out the sentence."

Hartless said, "He wants to give some kind of peace to the families, which blows my mind."

It's not clear on what grounds Holman's execution may be delayed without his approval, but legal experts say the state likely will not be able to carry out the sentence.

"I don't think it's a question of whether the person who wants to be executed opposes it or not," said Duke University law professor Jim Coleman, a death penalty opponent. "The question is whether the execution is constitutional."

On Wednesday, Wake Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens halted his fourth execution after the inmate sued prison officials saying they cannot ensure the inmate will not experience cruel and unusual punishment without a doctor's participation.

Last month, the N.C. Medical Board passed an ethics policy forbidding doctors from participating in an execution in any way beyond being present.

That ethics edict conflicts with a federal judge's order last year that required a doctor to monitor an inmate's consciousness so the execution would pass constitutional muster.

State caught in web

And so, prison officials have been negotiating with the medical board to see whether a solution can be found. Eventually, the dispute will come back before Stephens to determine whether the final proposed execution procedure is constitutional.

"If our method of doing executions is unconstitutional, they're not going to carry it out," said Rich Rosen, a UNC law professor who opposes the death penalty.

Holman's former lawyers, Alexander Charns and Mary Pollard, are not commenting. It's unknown what they might do. But in similar situations in the past, the inmate's family members have filed lawsuits seeking to halt the execution and try to force the inmate to proceed with the appeals.
Holman has said his relatives support his decision.

Wake Assistant District Attorney Susan Spurlin said that in the months before her death, Linda Holman lived in fear of her husband. She nailed down the windows of her home so he couldn't break in. She installed an alarm system. She petitioned neighbors to change the name of the street where they lived so it would be easier for police to find.

A desperate 911 call

On July 28, 1997, a desperate Linda Holman called 911 as she sped away from her husband, going 90 mph along N.C. 55 toward Apex. During the 911 call, she pleaded for help saying her husband was ramming her car. "My husband's trying to kill me ... He's chasing me," Linda Holman told the dispatcher. "Oh please, God! Oh please, I don't want to die now."

Linda Holman turned into the parking lot of a convenience store at the intersection with Olive Chapel Road. An Apex police officer pursued Allen Holman, who circled back around to the mini-mart and shot his wife. He then went to the couple's home, held off police with gunfire, then shot himself in the stomach.

At his trial, Holman said he would rather be executed than spend the rest of his life in prison. Holman told the judge that he wanted to tell jurors that he was not sorry that he killed his wife.

When the judge asked if he had any concern that the jury may sentence him to death, Holman said, "I'm going to die as a piece of state property either way. There's only a little bit of difference as to the time of death."

(source: News & Observer)

Lots of lethal injection inspection news

Lots of lethal injection inspection news

Lots of news nationwide about on-going reviews of lethal injection protocols:

  • In Florida, as detailed in articles here and here and here, the commission reviewing the state's execution procedures has settled on the recommendations it will be making to the Governor.
  • In California, as detailed in articles assembled here, a "federal judge Friday refused to guarantee state officials privacy in their discussions over revising the state's method of executing prisoners by lethal injection."
  • In North Carolina, as detailed here, state officials "are now trying to work out a compromise with the [state] medical board [to permit a revised execution protocol] that satisfies a federal judge's ruling requiring a doctor to attend executions."
  • In Delaware, as detailed here, "a federal judge granted class action status to a lawsuit charging the state's method of lethal injection amounts to unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment."

February 25, 2007 at 06:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)