“Hodgepodge” Seen As Court Considers Lethal Injections


The debate over the use of lethal injection in capital punishment has delayed two more executions. Last night, the Supreme Court issued an unusual last-minute reprieve for Texas death-row inmate Carlton Turner, Jr., reports the New York Times. “It's an indication that the court believes there are real questions about what states are doing in this area,” said Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama, which opposes executions. “What this signals is that the burden is now shifting to the states to do something about all these problems folks have been talking about.”

Earlier yesterday, Alabama Gov. Bob Riley said the state would not execute Tommy Arthur while it came up with a new formula for lethal injection. State officials said they wanted to make sure prisoners were completely unconscious before they were killed. The Supreme Court's decision may interrupt what appears to be emerging as a patchwork, state-by-state response to its decision Tuesday to look at whether lethal injection causes unnecessary suffering. Eleven states have stopped lethal injections altogether as litigation proceeds. “It's going to be a hodgepodge,” said George Kendall, a New York civil rights lawyer. “Some states will shut down, and in some it will be business as usual.”

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/28/us/28lethal.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

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