The Death Chamber Gets Darker Still

Since Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales has as much of a chance of being impeached by Congress as I have of becoming the dean of Yale Law School, I thought I would focus this morning on a fascinating piece in The New York Times by Adam Liptak about how some state lawmakers are making private important information about executions. It is a must-read for folks interested in the debate over capital punishment in America, as is the piece by Tad Friend in the July 30th issue of the New Yorker magazine (link not available) about California's death row machinations.

Liptak writes: "In the wake of several botched executions around the nation, often performed by poorly trained workers, you might think that we would want to know more, not less, about the government employees charged with delivering death on behalf of the state. But corrections officials say that executioners will face harassment or worse if their identities are revealed, and that it is getting hard to attract medically trained people to administer lethal injections, in part because codes of medical ethics prohibit participation in executions."

Liptak goes on to note that in many states all you need to be or do to be an executioner is "a person 18 years or older who is selected by the warden to initiate the flow of lethal chemicals into the inmate." He cites a recent ruling by a Florida judge who halted a scheduled execution and said in court: "I don't think that any 18-year-old executioner, with the pressure of a governor's warrant behind him to carry out an execution, and with the pressure of the whole world -- the press and the whole world -- in front of him and looking at him is going to have enough experience and competence to stop an execution when it needs to be stopped."

The solution here is as obvious as it has proven difficult to implement. Prison officials and lawmakers have to come up with rigorous, humane and fair execution procedures that are performed by people who have the background, training and experience to handle the job. They have to ensure that the medical profession signs off on those procedures and that veteran medical personnel are available and willing to ensure that executions are performed flawlessly.

Of course, all of this costs money and so far too few states have been willing to provide the necessary funding. Which brings us to where we are today: more and more executions are being delayed as more and more judges refuse to sign off on ill-considered execution plans. It is a sorry reality in a grim area of the law.

By Andrew Cohen |  July 30, 2007; 9:25 AM ET
Previous: Gonzo Vox Pop, Part II: His Defenders | Next: Bench Goes Bye-Bye for a Few Days

Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



THE WORLD REVOLVES ON BROWNIE POINTS AND MONEY NOR MATTER IF YOUR RIGHTS ARE STEPPED ON. WE NEED REAL CHANGE ON GREED AND FAVORTISM ON JOB PROMOTION AND WE NEED TO STOP BRIBES THAT COME INTO PLAY THIS INCLUDES THE COMMUNITY TO WAQSHINGTON D,C FROM NUNZIO BAGLIERE SYRACUSE N.Y. E MAIL nunzio7@verizno.net

Posted by: nunzio bagliere | July 30, 2007 11:34 AM

THE WORLD REVOLVES ON BROWNIE POINTS AND MONEY NOR MATTER IF YOUR RIGHTS ARE STEPPED ON. WE NEED REAL CHANGE ON GREED AND FAVORTISM ON JOB PROMOTION AND WE NEED TO STOP BRIBES THAT COME INTO PLAY THIS INCLUDES THE COMMUNITY TO WAQSHINGTON D,C FROM NUNZIO BAGLIERE SYRACUSE N.Y. E MAIL nunzio7@verizno.net

Posted by: nunzio bagliere | July 30, 2007 11:34 AM

THE WORLD REVOLVES ON BROWNIE POINTS AND MONEY NOR MATTER IF YOUR RIGHTS ARE STEPPED ON. WE NEED REAL CHANGE ON GREED AND FAVORTISM ON JOB PROMOTION AND WE NEED TO STOP BRIBES THAT COME INTO PLAY THIS INCLUDES THE COMMUNITY TO WAQSHINGTON D,C FROM NUNZIO BAGLIERE SYRACUSE N.Y. E MAIL nunzio7@verizno.net

Posted by: nunzio bagliere | July 30, 2007 11:34 AM

Dr. Death is now out of prison, heck this would be the perfect job for him.

Posted by: Chris M | July 30, 2007 02:07 PM

Well, a large-caliber pistol bullet to the back of the head seems at least as merciful as the needle. If you're into merciful death sentences, that is.

As to who does it, how about the judge or jury fore[wo]man who delivers the death sentence? It would be a good indication of sincerity, if nothing else.

Posted by: Would you pull the trigger? | July 30, 2007 03:32 PM

The comment that medically trained personnel don't want to be executioners of criminals, only of innocent pre-born babies!

Posted by: Tom | August 11, 2007 07:48 AM

Hello! Good Site! Thanks you! cisqbqivuuox

Posted by: pqfecwscnw | August 26, 2007 12:59 PM

arsbcjl vkseqgn spugv uchs ntmuf mpeulh xoydvunjg

Posted by: szvj kqovp | August 30, 2007 03:38 PM

arsbcjl vkseqgn spugv uchs ntmuf mpeulh xoydvunjg

Posted by: szvj kqovp | August 30, 2007 03:39 PM

euvcognk txre rmeuc xbpu wyjgx fecomjtp rlkbmvsqe http://www.hqsgyvp.qhlgazyo.com

Posted by: jiymhl rmvcshi | August 30, 2007 03:41 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2007 The Washington Post Company