Lethal Injection Halted In California, Florida

  1. Lethal injection halted in Calif., Florida
    By Adam Tanner
    Fri Dec 15, 7:37 PM ET

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Botched executions in California and Florida that required more than 30 minutes to kill condemned prisoners prompted a moratorium of the lethal injection procedure in both states on Friday.
    Federal Judge Jeremy Fogel found California's method of execution unconstitutional, concluding its "implementation of lethal injection is broken, but it can be fixed."
    The decision follows the state's 2005 execution in which guards failed to connect a back-up intravenous line to Stanley "Tookie" Williams, the former Crips gang leader who garnered global publicity after writing anti-gang books.
    Then on Wednesday Florida executioners botched the insertion of needles into condemned killer Angel Diaz, which meant lethal chemicals did not go directly into his veins, according to the state's medical examiner.
    Florida's incoming governor, Charlie Crist, responded on Friday by saying he would halt executions until a commission investigated the state's procedures.
    Death penalty opponents have for years argued that lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment barred by the U.S. Constitution, but only such recent instances have given legal and political traction to their arguments.
    "When properly administered, lethal injection results in a death that is far kinder than that suffered by the victims of capital crimes," said Fogel, who earlier this year visited the death chamber at San Quentin State Prison north of San Francisco.
    "At the present time, however, defendants' implementation of California's lethal-injection protocol lacks both reliability and transparency," he wrote.
    "In light of the substantial questions raised by the records of previous executions, defendants' actions and failures to act have resulted in an undue and unnecessary risk of an Eighth Amendment violation. This is intolerable under the Constitution."
    Lethal injection is used in 37 U.S. states, but legal challenges have delayed such executions this year in not only California and Florida, the first and fourth most populous states, but several others including New Jersey and Ohio.
    The United States has executed 53 people in 2006, a 10-year low, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
    California has long executed its worst criminals. Its famous San Quentin prison hanged the condemned starting in 1893; the state turned to lethal gas in 1938. It turned to lethal injection in 1994 after a federal judge found gassing cruel and unusual.
    Florida lawmakers voted to switch to lethal injection in 2000 after a series of bungled executions using the state's electric chair, including one where flames shot from a prisoner's head.
    Executioners now typically attach two intravenous lines to condemned U.S. inmates, one tube acting as a backup to assure a continuous flow of the three chemicals that anesthetize, paralyze and then kill.
    In the Williams execution, prison guards struggled for 25 minutes to insert the intravenous lines and it took another 10 minutes for the lethal drugs to take effect, said Barbara Becnel, a witness to the execution and co-author of Williams' anti-gang books.
    Journalists at several recent California executions have seen guards struggle to insert the IV lines to the condemned killer.

    Witnesses in Florida this week said Diaz appeared to grimace and gasp for breath in what was supposed to be a quick but painless procedure. Prison officials had to give Diaz the drugs twice and it took him 34 minutes to die from the start of the execution.
    "The court I think correctly recognized that there are severe flaws in the system," said Richard Steinken, a Chicago attorney who has worked with Death Row inmate Michael Morales, whose case sparked Judge Fogel's decision on Friday. "Whether it can be fixed remains to be seen." (Additional reporting by Jim Christie in San Francisco and by Michael Peltier in Tallahassee, Florida)
  2. Thank goodness!
  3. I totally disagree. These monsters should be killed within one year of conviction. It didn't take him 34 minutes to die...it took over 20 years! It's a waste of tax payers money and it's a travesty of justice for the victims.

    I'm not saying go in and start killin' every prisoner - but there are some people who are just evil and do not deserve another breath on this earth.

    I'm kinda a fire and brimstone kind of gal. :rolleyes: :angel:

  4. ITA!! What about the VICTIMS? Diaz lived 20 years longer than the victim he KILLED. People always forget about the victim(s) and the family that must suffer with losing their loved one because a criminal decided to go and TAKE someone's life for the heck of it. :yucky: :yucky: :yucky:
  5. I'm against the death penalty. With all the DNA testing in recent years, many wrongly accused people were proven innocent.
  6. Without turning this into a whole death penalty debate (we already had one, remember?) while I sympathize with the families of the victims, I find it a tad hypocritical for the state to say, "Murder is wrong, and to prove our point, we're going to kill you."
  7. ITA. I am a realist like you are. It is insane that we, the good people who behave ourselves, have to live with these evil losers and be victimized by them.
  8. here we go with the death penalty...

    to me, it is not worth it to execute prisoners at all if it means even ONE innocent person gets executed (and it's been well-documented that this has happened many times before). to me, society should find worth in eliminating execution if only to give our legal system the opportunity to exhonorate the innocent. and yes, sometimes it does take 20 years for the truth to come out. advances in science mean that in a decade, maybe we can prove innocence that we cannot prove today.

    in my mind, the life of an innocent person is always the greater good to be protected, even if it means enduring other unpleasantness by having to house horrible people. society is no less safe when they're secured in jail than if they were dead.
  9. But they're locked away in prison for a VERY long time, sometimes for life. And sometimes, how they're terrorized in prison is worse than the lethal injection.
  11. Sorry, I forgot about that. (I was talking about prison in general, not realizing that, of course, Death Row inmates are in a separate section.)

    My point was that we're not victimized by the murderers because they're locked away in prison.

    Isn't it enough to know that someone who committed a horrible crime is locked away in prison to rot for the rest of his life?

    Gandhi said "An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind."

    But, you're right. Let's agree to disagree.
  12. I agree, My DH and I spend hours arguing on the death penalty, he's for it and I'm against it. I just think it's wrong to punish someone for killing by killing, makes no sense!