"This is a civilized society? Three face possible executions this week," is Scott Martelle's post at the Los Angeles Times Opinion LA blog.
It is a flawed, ineffective and barbaric system. And the state of its nature is compounded now by secrecy and sketchy legal tactics by the authorities charged with carrying out our public business. All in the name of revenge.
"Marcus Wellons executed," is by Rhonda Cook and Bill Rankin at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Wellons, 58, was pronounced dead at 11:56 p.m. after his final appeals were denied by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Wellons apologized to the family of India Roberts the teenager he was convicted of killing and said, “I ask and hope they will find peace in my death.”
He thanked his family and friends for their love and prayers and added, “I’m going home to be with Jesus.”
Wellons hummed as prayer was being said and as the warden read the death warrant. Otherwise there was little movement visible as he lay on the gurney. He was seen to exhale a couple of times before his body seemed to quiver and then there was no more movement.
Three minutes before Wellons was declared dead a nurse standing to his left was seen asking one of the corrections officers if he was ok, just before the officer fainted.
On Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the federal appeals court in Atlanta unanimously declined to stop Wellons’ execution. The court said Wellons failed to clear a legal threshold by showing that the lethal-injection protocol to be used in his execution created a “demonstrated risk of severe pain that is substantial when compared to the known alternatives.”
But Judge Charles Wilson, writing separately, expressed concern over the state’s secrecy law. How could Wellons, the judge asked, show that he faced a risk of needless pain and suffering “when the state has passed a law prohibiting him from learning about the compound it plans to use to execute him?”
Wilson questioned the need to keep information about the lethal-injection process concealed from the public and the courts, “especially given the recent much-publicized botched execution in Oklahoma.”
“Unless judges have information about the specific nature of a method of execution,” Wilson wrote, “we cannot fulfill our constitutional role of determining whether a state’s method of execution violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment before it becomes too late.”
The New York Times reports, "Georgia Inmate Is Put to Death in First U.S. Execution Since Botched Procedure," by Alan Blinder.
Although the state acknowledged that it used a substantial dose of a single drug — pentobarbital, a barbiturate — from a compounding pharmacy to execute Mr. Wellons, many of the procedures surrounding his death were kept secret. A state law that took effect last summer and was upheld in May by the State Supreme Court allowed the authorities in Georgia to withhold information about the people and companies involved in executions.
That secrecy was a subject of one of Mr. Wellons’s many appeals in the federal and state courts, which continued well into Tuesday. Defense lawyers argued that the confidentiality exposed Mr. Wellons to the threat of a cruel and unusual punishment because they could not evaluate the qualifications of members of the execution team or the safety record of the compounding pharmacy.
"Georgia, Missouri execute convicted killers; first since botched lethal injection," by Matt Pearce, Ryan Parker for the Los Angeles Times.
Wellons and Winfield both had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to examine the secrecy laws in their states as a reason to stay their executions because of the undisclosed drug cocktails that would be used to kill them.
Secrecy laws like Georgia's and Missouri's have come under especially heavy scrutiny from death penalty opponents after Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett writhed and groaned before his death in April.
"Weeks after botched Oklahoma execution, multiple executions scheduled for 24-hour window," by Mark Berman in the Washington Post.
It has been seven weeks since an inmate was executed in the United States. The last time it happened was on April 29, a botched execution in Oklahoma that drew considerable criticism and cast a bright spotlight on the issues surrounding capital punishment as it currently exists in this country.
Since that incident, other executions were halted, some with just hours to spare. There are currently four executions scheduled during a 24-hour period from Tuesday night to Wednesday night, though it’s unclear how many of these will actually occur. (At least one is likely to be stayed, while the Supreme Court on Tuesday night denied requests to stay two of the other executions.) Still, on Tuesday night, the U.S. saw its first execution in nearly two months.
"Georgia and Missouri carry out first US executions since Oklahoma incident," is the updated AP report, via the Guardian.
Nine executions nationwide have been stayed or postponed since late April, when Oklahoma prison officials halted the execution of Clayton Lockett after noting that the lethal injection drugs weren't being administered into his vein properly. Lockett's punishment was halted and he died of a heart attack several minutes later.
"I think after Clayton Lockett's execution, everyone is going to be watching very closely," Fordham University School of Law professor Deborah Denno, a death penalty expert, said of this week's executions.
Georgia, Missouri and Florida all refuse to say where they obtain their drugs, or if they are tested.
Lawyers for Wellons and Winfield had challenged the secretive process used by some states to obtain lethal injection drugs from unidentified, loosely regulated compounding pharmacies.
Georgia and Missouri both use the single drug pentobarbital, a sedative. Florida uses a three-drug combination of midazolam hydrochloride, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride.
Additional coverage includes:
"Georgia, Missouri inmates put to death, first since botched Oklahoma execution," by Reuters, via the Chicago Tribune.
"Georgia And Missouri Carry Out First Executions Since The Botched Lethal Injection," by AFP, via Business Insider.
The Wall Street Journal posts, "States Carry Out First Executions Since Botched Oklahoma Case," by Cameron McWhirter and Ashby Jones.
"US executions continue despite concerns over secretive drugs," by Wilson Dizard for Al Jazeera America.
"Georgia execution is first since botched Oklahoma procedure," by Ed Payne and Ralph Ellis for CNN.
The ABA Journal posts, "Prison official faints during execution; sentence was upheld despite jurors’ gag gifts, drug secrecy," by Debra Cassens Weiss.