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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…

Arkansas can't find enough volunteers to witness back-to-back executions

Over the course of 10 days in April, Arkansas plans to put to death 8 inmates.

The state code requires that no fewer than 6 "respectable citizens" be present at each execution.

There's one problem: It's having a hard time finding enough volunteers to witness them.

The volunteer pool is apparently thin enough that state Department of Corrections Director Wendy Kelley invited members of a local Rotary Club to volunteer.

"Temporarily, there was a little laugh from the audience because they thought she might be kidding," Bill Booker, acting president of the Little Rock Rotary Club, told CNN affiliate FOX16. "It quickly became obvious that she was not kidding."

Kelley's "informal efforts" continue, the department told CNN on Friday.

"We remain confident in our ability to carry out these sentences," spokesman Solomon Graves said.


Who watches executions?


The people who are allowed to witness an execution vary by state, said Robert Dunham, director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, D.C.

Typically, family members of the inmate and relatives of the victims are present, he said. Sometimes, a state requires that lay people who have no stake in the case are present, too.

That could be a member of the media or a citizen witness, such as in Arkansas.

The Arkansas Code doesn't require that witnesses vary from execution to execution.

So, it's conceivable that some of the volunteers could witness more than one, Dunham said.

"It's not natural watching the intentional taking of a human life," he said. "It has an emotional impact on people."

And witnessing multiple execution more than just doubles the impact, he said.

"It increases exponentially."

One obstacle at a time


The 8 death row inmates will be put to death between April 17 and April 27, a move that death penalty opponents have called "unprecedented."

The series of execution has been attributed to the state's soon-to-be-expire supply of midazolam, a contentious drug that's been blamed for a spate of botched executions in recent years.

The executions would mark the 1st time since 2005 that Arkansas has put an inmate to death.

Source: CNN, April 1, 2017

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