Baze v. Rees
Q & A
15. What evidence supports the assertion that the physical conditions under which lethal injection executions are carried out often create a foreseeable risk that the inmate will be conscious during the delivery of the second and third drugs?
The following are examples, which are more fully developed in the amicus curiae briefs filed in support of petitioners, including the Amicus Brief for Michael Morales, Michael Taylor, et al., at 22-23, 27-28.
In a number of states, execution team members, who administer the drugs -- including the thiopental -- and monitor the inmate do so from a room outside the execution chamber. In the California challenge, Judge Fogel found that “the lighting is too dim, and the execution team members are too far away, to permit effective observation . . . much less to determine whether the inmate is conscious; this is exacerbated by the fact that the chamber door is sealed shut during executions . . . rendering it virtually impossible to hear any sound from the chamber.” Morales v. Tilton, 465 F. Supp. 2d at 980.
Even after Tennessee revised its protocol earlier this year, a federal district court judge ruled that the remote administration of the chemicals through the IV lines, which allows only for visual monitoring, “increases the plaintiff’s risk of unnecessary pain.” Harbison v. Little, 2007 WL 2821230, at *20.