News

1,000 Faith Leaders Call for End to the Death Penalty

As the 1,000th execution approaches, over 1,000 religious leaders from more than a dozen religious faiths have issued an open letter calling for an end to capital punishment in the United States. The letter reaffirms the leaders’ moral opposition to the death penalty and reiterates the groups’ belief in the sacredness of life and the human capacity for change. The faith leaders called on public officials to reexamine capital punishment and to seek better ways to help communities heal from violence. The letter states:


Read More 3,741 reads
1000th Execution Approaches

The U.S. conducted the 1,000th execution since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976 on December 2. This is a somber milestone in the history of capital punishment, but it comes at a time when the use of the death penalty in this country is sharply declining. Death sentences, the size of death row, executions, and public support for the death penalty are all lower than they were five years ago.

This event presents an opportunity to reflect on the application of the death penalty over the past 30 years. The following are resources that may be helpful in such a review:

Other organizations' responses (including the letter from 1,000 religious leaders):
www.1000executions.org


Read More 3,391 reads
NEW VOICES: Originator of Lethal Injection Voices Regrets, Opposes Death Penalty

Bill Wiseman, the former Oklahoma legislator who introduced lethal injection as a method of execution in the U.S. in order to make death row inmates' deaths more humane, now regrets having pushed the concept into law. He notes that he introduced the measure in order to ease his shame for having voted to restore the death penalty in Oklahoma, stating, "I'm sorry for what I did. I hope someday to offset it by helping us realize that capital punishment is wrong and self-destructive." While discussing recent court challenges regarding lethal injection practices, Wiseman stated, "I'm aware of my responsibility. It keeps me tied to the problem. And the problem is that we're killing people. That's what's wrong, not how we're doing it." Wiseman is no longer an elected official and was recently ordained as an Episcopal priest.


Read More 3,631 reads
Executions by Lethal Injection Being Challenged around the Country

A number of states are grappling with the question of whether the lethal injection drug Pavulon, also known as pancuronium bromide, paralyzes a condemned inmate's muscles in a way that masks horrific pain felt during an execution, a side-effect that experts say could violate of the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The Tennessee Supreme Court heard arguments about this issue in a death row case in June 2005 and a similar case is expected to reach the Kentucky Supreme Court soon. In May 2005, a Missouri inmate was given a last minute stay so that the U.S. Supreme Court could review his death penalty procedure case. His claim was denied 5-4, and he was later executed.


Read More 3,698 reads
Nebraska Supreme Court to Hear Electric Chair Challenge

The Nebraska Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether the state's use of the electric chair is cruel and unusual punishment. The case, brought by death row inmate Carey Dean Moore, will be heard on May 5. Every other death penalty state has adopted lethal injection as an alternative method of execution. A bill to offer lethal injection in Nebraska remains stalled in the state's Senate Judiciary Committee.

Three people have been put to death in Nebraska since executions resumed in 1994. Coroner reports document that one of the men, John Joubert, suffered a 4-inch brain blister on the top of his head and blistering on both sides of his head above his ears. The reports note that another man, Robert Williams, had a "bubble blister" the size of a baseball on his left calf and had pronounced "charring" on both sides of a knee and the top of his head. A witness to Williams' execution reported seeing smoke coming from his head.

Moore's attorney, Alan Peterson, notes, "Now, no other state mandates that humans face the horror of death by internal burning and shock, with the well-known history of bungled, smoking failures of the century-old technique. [Electrocution] involves more than mere extinguishment of life and will subject defendant to needless agony, physical suffering, torture, mutilation, disfigurement, and degradation.... No longer can this state tolerate the form of punishment now almost universally recognized to be beyond the bounds of minimum human dignity, civility, and decency."  (Associated Press, April 19, 2005).
 


Read More 6,905 reads
Lethal Injection To Be Examined In Kentucky

A Franklin County, Kentucky, court will hear arguments beginning April 18 to determine whether the state's lethal injection procedures rise to the level of cruelty that is forbidden by the U.S. and state constitutions. In November 2004, the same court cited questions about the lethal injection process when it issued a stay of execution for Thomas Clyde Bowling, Jr. just days before his scheduled execution. Attorneys for Bowling and death row inmate Ralph Baze, who is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit, now plan to present an anesthesiologist, a pharmacologist, and 18 other witnesses whose testimony will challenge the state's lethal injection procedures, the drugs used in these executions, and the training of the personnel who carry them out. Currently, Kentucky uses a series of three drugs during lethal injections that are designed to relax and put inmates to sleep before killing them. Bowling's attorney plans to present evidence that the first drugs do not get into the blood stream before the killing drugs are administered, leading to a "death that is pure torture." Among the evidence presented will be an autopsy report for Eddie Lee Harper, the state's first and only inmate to be executed by lethal injection.


Read More 3,085 reads
MEDICAL JOURNAL, THE LANCET: Inmates Probably Conscious During Lethal Injections

inmates affected A team of medical doctors reported in the British medical journal The Lancet that in 43 of 49 executed inmates (88%) studied, the anaesthetic administered during lethal injections was lower than that required for surgery.  Toxicology reports from Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina revealed that post-mortem concentrations of thiopental in the blood were below typical surgery levels, and in 21 inmates (43%) the concentrations of thiopental in the blood were consistent with awareness.  Their investigation of lethal injection practices from several states found that the guidelines for delivering the essential anaesthesia drug thiopental are flawed and that some inmates might experience awareness and suffering during their execution. In Texas and Virginia, the researchers found that those administering thiopental during lethal injections had no training, and that the drug was administered remotely with no monitoring for anaesthesia. The study also found that in these states no records were kept regarding the administration of thiopental and no peer-review was done.  The report concludes, "Failures in protocol design, implementation, monitoring and review might have led to the unnecessary suffering of at least some of those executed. Because participation of doctors in protocol design or execution is ethically prohibited, adequate anaesthesia cannot be certain. Therefore, to prevent unnecessary cruelty and suffering, cessation and public review of lethal injection is warranted."  (The Lancet, Volume 365, Page 1412, April 16, 2005).  See Methods of Execution

 

 

 

 

 


Read More 11,401 reads
Kentucky to Conduct Hearing on Whether Lethal Injection Is Humane

In Kentucky, a Franklin Circuit Court judge will hear evidence for possibly five days in April on whether the state's method of executing prisoners is humane. Medical experts will testify about the drugs, dosage and training of the people who administer the 3-drug lethal-injection cocktail. Lawyers for condemned inmates Thomas Clyde Bowling Jr. and Ralph Baze sued the state in August, saying Kentucky's method of execution violates a prisoner's Eighth Amendment right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.

Among the issues to be reviewed are the type of chemicals used in lethal injection, the dosage, and how much of the drugs make it into the body of the condemned. Kentucky has executed only one person, Eddie Lee Harper, by lethal injection, in 1999. In court papers, Baze and Bowling's lawyers have argued that there is more than a 50 percent chance that Harper was awake when the third drug was administered, meaning he could have felt pain. But because the state uses a drug called Pavulon, which paralyzes the muscles, Harper could not have communicated that he was in pain.


Read More 3,480 reads
9th Circuit Weighs Lethal Injection Challenge in California

Note: The Court of Appeals denied the challenge to California's lethal injection process. Just one week before the scheduled execution of California death row inmate Donald Beardslee, judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit are considering a suit filed by the ACLU of California, Death Penalty Focus, and Beardslee's defense attorneys concerning the state's use of a paralyzing chemical called Pavulon in lethal injections. Beardslee's attorneys said that Pavulon could prevent an inmate from crying out in pain, and that it could mask suffering caused by asphyxiation and the searing sensation caused by the last administered chemical in the lethal injection process, potassium chloride. Some of the judges expressed concerns about the state's secretiveness and lack of detail regarding the chemical: "You're putting us in an awkward position," said Judge Sidney Thomas to the state's lawyer. "Some other states don't use it." Defense attorneys argued that the purpose of including Pavulon is to keep the public in the dark about whether the state's lethal injection method is inhumane. A ruling is still pending regarding this appeal, and a separate bid for clemency from the governor will be heard soon by the state's parole board. (Sacramento Bee, January 13, 2005). This would be the 11th execution in California since the death penalty was reinstated 30 years ago. There are 638 people on the state's death row.


Read More 3,349 reads
Executions in the United States in 2005
DATE
NUMBER SINCE 1976
STATE
NAME
AGE
RACE
VICTIM RACE
METHOD
1/04/05
945
TX
James Porter* 33
W
L
Lethal Injection
1/19/05
946
CA
Donald Beardslee
61
W
2W
Lethal Injection
1/25/05
947
TX
Troy Kunkle
38
W
W
Lethal Injection
1/25/05
948
GA
Timothy Carr
34
W
W
Lethal Injection
2/17/05
949
TX
Dennis Bagwell
41
W
4W
Lethal Injection
3/01/05
950
GA
Stephen Mobley
39
W
W
Lethal Injection
3/08/05
951
OH
William H. Smith
47
B
B
Lethal Injection
3/08/05
952
TX
George Hopper
50
W
W
Lethal Injection
3/10/05
953
IN
Donald Wallace
47
W
4W
Lethal Injection
3/11/05
954
NC
William Powell
58
W
W
Lethal Injection
3/15/05
955
OK
Jimmy Ray Slaughter
57
W
2W
Lethal Injection
3/16/05
956
MO
Stanley Hall
37
B
W
Lethal Injection
4/05/05
957
FL
Glen Ocha*
47
W
W
Lethal Injection
4/15/05
958
SC
Richard Longworth
36
W
2W
Lethal Injection
4/20/05
959
TX
Douglas Roberts
42
W
L
Lethal Injection
4/21/05
960
IN
Bill J. Benefiel, Jr.
48
W
W
Lethal Injection
4/27/05
961
MO
Donald Jones
38
B
B
Lethal Injection
4/28/05
962
AL
Mario Centobie*
39
W
W
Lethal Injection
5/3/05
963
TX
Lonnie Wayne Pursley
43
W
W
Lethal Injection
5/6/05
964
NC
Earl J. Richmond, Jr.
43
B
4B
Lethal Injection
5/12/05
965
OK
George James Miller, Jr.
37
W
W
Lethal Injection
5/13/05
966
CT
Michael Ross*
45
W
4W Lethal Injection
5/17/05
967
MO
Vernon Brown
51
B
2B
Lethal Injection
5/18/05
968
TX
Bryan Wolfe 44
B
B
Lethal Injection
5/19/05
969
TX
Richard Cartwright
31
W
L
Lethal Injection
5/25/05
970
IN
Gregory Scott Johnson
40
W
W
Lethal Injection
6/2/05
971
AL
Jerry Paul Henderson 58
W
W
Lethal Injection
6/7/05
972
TX
Alexander Martinez* 28
L
L
Lethal Injection
7/12/05
973
GA
Robert Dale Conklin 44
W
W
Lethal Injection
7/19/05
974
OK
Michael L. Pennington 37
B
W
Lethal Injection
7/27/05
975
IN
Kevin Conner 38
W
3W
Lethal Injection
7/28/05
976
TX
David Martinez
29
L
W
Lethal Injection
8/4/05
977
AL
George Sibley
62
W
W
Lethal Injection
8/10/05
978
TX
Gary Sterling 38
B
W
Lethal Injection
8/11/05
979
OK
Kenneth Eugene Turrentine
52
B
B
Lethal Injection
8/23/05
980
TX
Robert Alan Shields 30
W
W
Lethal Injection
8/31/05
981
MO
Timothy Johnston 44
W
W
Lethal Injection
9/14/05
982
TX
Frances Newton ( ƒ) 40
B
3B
Lethal Injection
9/22/05
983
AL
John W. Peoples Jr. 48
W
3W
Lethal Injection
9/27/05
984
OH
Herman Dale Ashworth*
32
W
W
Lethal Injection
9/28/05
985
IN
Alan Matheney
54
W
W
Lethal Injection
10/6/05
986
TX
Ronald Ray Howard 32
B
W
Lethal Injection
10/20/05
987
TX
Luis Ramirez 42
L
L
Lethal Injection
10/25/05
988
OH
William Williams, Jr.
48
B
4B
Lethal Injection
10/26/05
989
MO
Marlin Gray
38
B
2W
Lethal Injection
11/3/05
990
TX
Melvin White
55
W
W
Lethal Injection
11/4/05
991
DE
Brian Steckel 36
W
W
Lethal Injection
11/4/05
992
SC
Arthur Hastings Wise*
51
B
4W
Lethal Injection
11/9/05
993
TX
Charles Thacker
38
W
W
Lethal Injection
11/11/05
994
NC
Steven Van McHone
35
W
2W
Lethal Injection
11/15/05
995
TX
Robert Rowell
50
W
W, L
Lethal Injection
11/16/05
996
TX
Shannon Thomas 34
B
3L
Lethal Injection
11/18/05
997
NC
Elias Hanna Syriani 67
A
A
Lethal Injection
11/28/05
998
AR
Eric Randall Nance 45
W
W
Lethal Injection
11/29/05
999
OH
John R. Hicks 49
B
2B
Lethal Injection
12/2/05
1000
NC
Kenneth Lee Boyd
57
W
2W
Lethal Injection
12/2/05
1001
SC
Shawn Humphries
33
W
W
Lethal Injection
12/5/05
1002
MD
Wesley E. Baker
47
B
W
Lethal Injection
12/13/05
1003
CA
Stanley Williams
51
B
3A, W
Lethal Injection
12/14/05
1004
MS
John Nixon
77
W
W
Lethal Injection


ƒ female
* volunteer - an inmate who has given up his/her appeals and requested the earliest execution date

# juvenile at time of the crime
~foreign national
¥ white defendant executed for murder of black victim
**Race of defendant information supplied by NAACP Legal Defense Fund "Death Row USA"

Back to Lists of Individuals Executed Since 1976

General Execution and Death Row Information
-Compiled by Death Penalty Information Center


 

Read More 20,024 reads