After it took 34 minutes to execute a Florida convict last December, then-Gov. Jeb Bush halted executions and asked a commission to suggest improvements to the procedure. New Gov. Charlie Crist he will sign death warrants again after the state followed 37 recommendations from the panel, including additional training for execution teams and installing video cameras, a communications system, and better lighting in the death chamber. Death penalty opponents and attorneys for Florida’s 376 condemned men continue to challenge lethal injections in court because they say the changes are not enough. They claim too much of the process remains shrouded in secrecy and the execution teams still lack proper medical training.
Florida is not alone with death row problems: lethal injections are on hold in seven other states and most challenges deal with the chemical cocktail used in executions. Florida prison officials say lethal injections give inmates a “humane and dignified death.” Costs for the training and chamber renovations are $44,000. McDonough said those involved in inserting the needles “are medically qualified people.” A death penalty opponent, Dr. Jonathan Groner, clinical professor of surgery at the Ohio State University College of Medicine, said Florida is inviting more problems. “Florida’s lethal injection procedure remains fundamentally flawed. The new protocol does nothing more than create the illusion that the procedure has improved,” Groner said.