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No Second Chances: What to Do After a Botched Execution

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Ohio tried and failed to execute Alva Campbell. The state shouldn't get a second chance.
The pathos and problems of America's death penalty were vividly on display yesterday when Ohio tried and failed to execute Alva Campbell. Immediately after its failure Gov. John Kasich set June 5, 2019, as a new execution date.
This plan for a second execution reveals a glaring inadequacy in the legal standards governing botched executions in the United States.
Campbell was tried and sentenced to die for murdering 18-year-old Charles Dials during a carjacking in 1997. After Campbell exhausted his legal appeals, he was denied clemency by the state parole board and the governor.
By the time the state got around to executing Campbell, he was far from the dangerous criminal of 20 years ago. As is the case with many of America's death-row inmates, the passage of time had inflicted its own punishments.
The inmate Ohio strapped onto the gurney was a 69-year-old man afflicted with serious ailm…

Florida fights to keep lethal drug records secret

Midazolam
Arizona lawyers seek records of Florida's triple-drug lethal injection protocol

Lawyers representing seven Arizona death row inmates want information about the drugs used in Florida's lethal-injection procedure, but corrections officials are asking a judge to keep the documents secret.

The Arizona lawyers last month filed a subpoena seeking years of records related to Florida's triple-drug lethal injection protocol, including the types of drugs purchased, the strengths and amounts of the drugs, the expiration dates of the drugs and the names of suppliers. The lawyers are seeking similar information from other states.

The subpoena, filed in federal court in Arizona, is part of a drawn-out challenge to that state's lethal-injection process. Arizona's death penalty has been on hold for 2 years following the botched execution of inmate Joseph Wood in 2014, who died nearly 2 hours after the lethal-injection procedure was started.

On Monday, the Florida Department of Corrections asked a federal judge in Tallahassee to quash the subpoena, saying that state information regarding death penalty drugs is exempt from public disclosure.

The state agency "is unclear how Florida's lethal injection drugs have anything to do with this case out of Arizona, in which plaintiffs are, in part, challenging Arizona's use of midazolam for its lethal injections. FDC does not have any involvement in Arizona's lethal injection procedures or Arizona's procurement of drugs for its lethal injections," Florida Chief Assistant Attorney General James Lee Marsh wrote in the 15-page motion.

Midazolam, 1 of the drugs used in Wood's execution, is the 1st of the 3-drug lethal cocktail used in Florida.

Florida corrections officials and the state "have very strong public policy interests in preventing its confidential execution information from being publicly disclosed," Marsh wrote.

"The United States Supreme Court has recognized that there is a guerilla war currently occurring against the death penalty in the United States. Anti-death penalty groups have been on a crusade against those legally involved with executions, harassing and threatening them until they feel pressured to withdraw their participation. ... In Florida, the plight has not been any different," he also wrote.

Arizona corrections officials told U.S. District Judge Neil Wake they are discontinuing the use of midazolam because their supply of the drug expired and they can no longer obtain the sedative.

Pfizer, which manufactures midazolam, in March announced that it would not distribute the drugs for use in capital punishment. In May, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Corrections said the manufacturer's decision would have no impact on Florida.

A bitterly divided U.S. Supreme Court last year signed off on the use of midazolam for executions, ruling that lawyers for Oklahoma prisoners failed to prove that the use of the drug "entails a substantial risk of severe pain." The Oklahoma prisoners had argued that the drug does not effectively sedate inmates during the execution process.

Florida and other states began using midazolam as the 1st step in a 3-drug execution cocktail in 2013, after previously using a drug called pentobarbital sodium. The states switched because Danish-based manufacturer Lundbeck refused to sell pentobarbital sodium directly to corrections agencies for use in executions and ordered its distributors to also stop supplying the drug for lethal-injection purposes.

Florida's death penalty, meanwhile, has been under scrutiny following a U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this year that found the state's death penalty sentencing system gave too much power to judges, and not juries.

The Florida Supreme Court has been grappling with the aftermath of that decision, in a case known as Hurst v. Florida, as well as a law hurriedly passed this spring to deal with the Hurst ruling. The court indefinitely postponed 2 executions following the January 12 Hurst ruling.

Source: news4jax.com, July 13, 2016

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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

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