Last week's New York Times Sunday Magazine
had an interesting five-page article on lethal injection
. Might be eye-opening, especially if there are any readers of this blog who think lethal injection is in any way a good idea.
Included in the extensive hearing transcripts of various lethal-injection challenges around the country are stories of inmates, like one in Ohio, raising his head in the middle of his own execution to say, “It’s not working.” In Alabama, officials at one point said they would execute an inmate who had compromised veins by placing an IV in the saphenous vein in his arm; that vein is actually in the leg. In an important case in California — the state with the most prisoners on death row — investigations have revealed inadequate execution conditions comparable to those in Missouri, in addition to alarming problems with an incompetent execution team. As these various court proceedings were unfolding, corrections officials in Starke, Fla., executed Angel Diaz by lethal injection on Dec. 13, 2006. But because the execution team punctured the veins in Diaz’s arms when putting in the intravenous catheters, forcing the drugs into the soft tissue instead, Diaz grimaced for as long as 26 minutes, suffering from 11-inch and 12-inch chemical burns on his left and right arms respectively, and took 34 minutes to die. Two days later, after the details of Diaz’s execution were reported in the media and it became clear that he was almost certainly not anesthetized for the procedure, Gov. Jeb Bush put a ban on all executions in Florida. That same afternoon in California, Judge Jeremy Fogel of the U.S. District Court issued a long-awaited ruling declaring the state’s lethal-injection protocol unconstitutional.