< /head > Colorado Coalition for Human Rights: Lethal Injection Is On Hold in 2 States

Friday, December 15, 2006

Lethal Injection Is On Hold in 2 States

From the Washington Post:

Executions by lethal injection were suspended in Florida and ordered revamped in California on Friday, as the chemical method once billed as a more humane way of killing the condemned came under mounting scrutiny over the pain it may cause.

Gov. Jeb Bush (R) ordered the suspension in Florida after a botched execution in which it took 34 minutes and a second injection to kill convicted murderer Angel Nieves Diaz. A state medical examiner said that needles used to carry the poison had passed through the prisoner's veins and delivered the three-chemical mix into the tissues of his arm.

In California, a federal judge ruled that the state must overhaul its lethal-injection procedures, calling its current protocol unconstitutional because it may inflict unacceptable levels of pain.

Judge Jeremy D. Fogel of the U.S. District Court for Northern California ordered the state to revise its procedures and consider eliminating the use of two drugs: pancuronium bromide, which causes paralysis, and potassium chloride, which causes cardiac arrest.

The judge did not order executions halted, though they have been effectively on hold since February while he conducted a review.

The "pervasive lack of professionalism" in the executions, Fogel wrote, "at the least is very disturbing."

More than 30 states, including Virginia and Maryland, use the same three-drug sequence for lethal injections. Groups opposed to the death penalty have had increasing success arguing that the pain the cocktail inflicts is unconstitutional "cruel and unusual punishment."


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