Mississippi executions halted by federal judge citing concerns over two drugs …

26 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Death penalty halted for prisoner after judge asks if lethal injection is painful.

Federal Judge Henry T. His decision came almost a month after the Attorney General’s Office in the state asked the Supreme Court to set an execution date no later than Thursday for inmate Richard Gerald Jordan.

A federal judge temporarily stopped executions in Mississippi on Tuesday at the request of two Death Row inmates who say the state’s lethal injection protocol is “chemical torture.” The state Executioner’s Office immediately filed an appeal of U.S.A man on death row in Mississippi for the 1976 murder of a Metairie-raised woman should not be executed until it is determined whether the state’s lethal-injection drug combination is constitutional, a federal judge in Mississippi decided Tuesday.

Wingate issued a temporary restraining order saying Mississippi officials cannot use pentobarbital or midazolam, two drugs used to render prisoners unconscious. The 69-year-old along with another death row inmate have alleged the combination of drugs Mississippi has been using in lethal injections could cause them great pain before killing them. Lawyers for the inmates, Richard Jordan and Ricky Chase, argued that the state Corrections Department won’t disclose the source of the raw powder it uses to compound pentobarbital, meaning its purity and potency can’t be guaranteed. Reacting to the decision Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said: “We are extremely disappointed that the federal court has frustrated the State of Mississippi’s lawful duty to enforce its criminal sentence of capital punishment. “Just months ago the United States Supreme Court approved Oklahoma’s method of lethal injection.

In any event, they said, pentobarbital doesn’t meet the state’s own standard of an “ultra short-acting barbiturate or other similar drug.” If the inmate isn’t sufficiently anesthetized, they argued, “the chemical paralytic agent and potassium chloride used as the second and third drugs will cause conscious suffocation and intense internal burning.” Mississippi, like several other states, has had difficulty conducting executions because of a nationwide shortage of pentobarbital and legally acceptable substitutes. We feel strongly that the district court misapplied the law.” Following a number of botched executions America’s death row units have found it increasingly difficult to obtain the deadly injections due to a European-led boycott on such sales. In January, Ohio scrapped its new combination of midazolam and hydromorphone after an inmate appeared to gasp for air during the 26 minutes it took him to die. The controversy surrounding the use of such methods has recently gained momentum after European manufacturers, including the Denmark-based maker of pentobarbital, banned US prisons from using their drugs for executions. Jordan was convicted of fatally shooting 33-year-old Edwina Marter shortly after kidnapping her for $50,000 ransom in Gulfport, Mississippi, on Jan. 12, 1976.

It came after convicted murderer and rapist Clayton Lockett convulsed, clenched his teeth and struggle to talk on the execution table before officials moved in to block the view of witnesses. Grace Simmons Fisher, a spokeswoman for the Mississippi Department of Corrections, wrote in an email that the order bars the state from using any drug to execute a condemned inmate. But evidence demonstrated that she was kneeling in front of Jordan when he shot her in the back of the head in northern Harrison County, Mississippi, prosecutors said. The suit questions whether Mississippi could safely mix an effective form of the anesthetic pentobarbital, the first of three drugs used in the state’s lethal injections.

Hood’s office asked the state Supreme Court in July to set a Thursday execution for convicted murderer Richard Jordan, one of the plaintiffs in the suit, but the state court never acted. The suit says there’s no guarantee Mississippi can mix a safe and effective anesthetic to knock out prisoners, and even then, prisoners could remain conscious during execution. But employing midazolam for lethal injections in Mississippi is as problematic as using pentobarbital, according to Jordan’s legal team, led by the director of New Orleans’ MacArthur Justice Center, Jim Craig.

Midazolam has been implicated in troubled executions in Arizona, Ohio and Oklahoma that went on longer than expected as inmates gasped and made other sounds. He said midazolam is not even a barbiturate. “It breaks all of our hearts, all these years, that (Jordan) hasn’t left the picture,” Marter’s sister, Norma de Gruy Wells, 73, of Metairie, said recently. “He’s in the picture.

Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in June that Oklahoma’s use of midazolam in executions didn’t violate the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. Craig has also pursued parallel lawsuits claiming the prison system is breaking state public records law by refusing to release documents on execution drug procurement.

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