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Tennessee execution: Billy Ray Irick tortured to death, expert says in new filing

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Editor's note: Reporter Dave Boucher was one of seven state-required media witnesses at Irick's execution. 
Billy Ray Irick felt searing pain akin to torture before he died in a Tennessee prison in August, but steps taken in carrying out his execution blocked signs of suffering, according to a doctor who reviewed information about the lethal injection.
In new court filings entered late Thursday amidst an ongoing legal challenge of Tennessee’s lethal injection protocol, Dr. David Lubarsky said statements from people who witnessed the execution indicated the controversial drug midazolam failed to ensure Irick could not feel pain during his death.
As a result, the death row inmate “experienced the feeling of choking, drowning in his own fluids, suffocating, being buried alive, and the burning sensation caused by the injection of the potassium chloride,” Lubarsky wrote in the filing.
The document also says the state did not follow its own lethal injection protocol, raising questio…

The Philippines votes on restoring death penalty and lowering age of criminal responsibility to 9

Feeding street children in Manila
Feeding street children in Manila
Introducing the death penalty and lowering the age of criminal responsibility could be a toxic combination in the Philippines.

By age 12, Ryan had already sold crack cocaine, begged, and stolen from shops. He had been to prison five times, and was brutally tortured by police to find out where he had hidden a necklace. 

“The police made me kneel on a rough floor all night and beat my legs with the batuta stick. They had no mercy, even though I begged in pain,” Ryan said. After that, he was given only a biscuit for dinner, and sent back to his jail cell, he told Unicef workers.

The Philippines had its third and final reading this week of a bill to bring back the death penalty—one of President Duterte’s main election campaign promises. If the bill is passed, the Philippines would be the first country in Southeast Asia to abolish and then reinstate capital punishment. Compounding this is the likely lowering of the age of criminal responsibility to nine, which would make it one of the only nations in the world to hold children under ten to account.

If the death penalty is passed, and the age of criminal responsibility is reduced, it’s possible that children like Ryan, forced onto the streets to provide for their large families, could face execution.

“Lowering the age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 9 is a death sentence to our children,” Senator Risa Hontiveros, who is opposing the bill, said in a national press conference in February. By treating children in conflict with the law as hardened criminals, they could either end up dead in the hands of extrajudicial killers or the state.”

The third reading of the bill yesterday in the lower house was largely symbolic, as it has already passed in the Lower Chamber with 217 votes in favor, and just 54 against. Finally, it will go to the Senate, which is also sympathetic to Duterte. The president must then sign off on the bill, and the death penalty will be in force.

“The Senate is now the Philippines’ last real hope of upholding its international obligations and rescuing the country from this backwards step,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s director for southeast Asia and the Pacific.

The Philippines abolished the death penalty in 2006, amid overwhelming support from legislators. The then president Gloria Arroyo, signed the law to end the punishment just before she visited the Vatican to meet the Pope. “We yield to the high moral imperative dictated by God to walk away from capital punishment,” Arroyo said in a speech.

Twelve years later, and the current government is committed to reinstating the penalty. 

➤ Click here to read the full article

Source: Newsweek, Eleanor Ross, March 10, 2017

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