Missouri's new protocol for executions is an improvement but falls short of ensuring inmates are put to death humanely, a federal judge said yesterday, the Kansas City Star reports. U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan Jr. said it is up to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to decide whether the state's proposed method for carrying out lethal injections is constitutional. Gaitan halted Missouri executions June 26 after finding flaws in current procedures.
State officials have been unable to find a board-certified anesthesiologist willing to participate in executions, as Gaitan ordered. They offered an alternative proposal that would use another physician, a nurse, or a pharmacist to prepare the drugs used to put inmates to death. The judge said the proposal inadequately addressed concerns about how the anesthetic that renders an inmate unconscious is administered and how the inmate is monitored to ensure he is not conscious when the chemicals are injected.