Today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch publishes the editorial, "Lies and secrets in administering the ultimate punishment." It's a must-read.
Thanks to diligent reporting by Chris McDaniel of St. Louis Public Radio, we now know that Missouri uses two drugs in its “single-drug” execution process. Inmates get an intravenous dosage of the sedative midazolam after they’re taken to the death chamber at the Bonne Terre prison. They usually get the sedative a half-hour or so before the execution time at 12:01 a.m. on the date specified by the Supreme Court.
Two questions then: Does this mean Missouri is jump-starting its executions before the time set by the court? And why did Corrections Director George Lombardi specifically deny in February that midazolam is used as part of the execution process?
Either Mr. Lombardi didn’t know what midazolam was or he lied about it. Either way it doesn’t offer much confidence in the man charged with making sure that the ultimate punishment is administered according to law. Sadly, it’s part of a pattern at the Department of Corrections.
In part because of all the challenges made under the Ringo lawsuit, the state has become very furtive in the way it executes people — and the way it intends to execute Earl Ringo.
"'Thorough justice' in execution process," is an OpEd by Joan Bray, also in today's Post-Dispatch. Bray is a former member of the Missouri Legislature. Here's the beginning:
Speaking in the aftermath of events in Ferguson, Gov. Jay Nixon stated: “To get justice it has to be transparent justice, it has to be thorough justice.”
He was right. His assertion should apply in all cases, including, maybe even especially, in the administration of the death penalty.
Missourians, as well as the men to be executed and their families, have an absolute right to know the truth about the execution process. Instead, Missouri’s Department of Corrections has misled the public and obstructed access to the truth. Appointed by the governor and represented by the attorney general, these public officials must be held accountable for transparent, thorough justice.
The Springfield News-Leader publishes, "Racial bias influences Missouri executions," by Cheryl Clay. She is the President of the Springfield NAACP chapter.
For the past few weeks, citizens of the world have been questioning the equality of the criminal justice system in Ferguson. And yet, very few seem to be asking if racial bias affects how the most drastic, irreversible act of the law – executions – are carried out in Missouri, the state ranked fifth in executions since they were reinstated in1976.
On September 10, Earl Ringo is scheduled to be the fourth black man executed in Missouri this year. Mr. Ringo was sentenced to death as a result the robbery of a restaurant after-hours that resulted in the deaths of two employees. The one African-American from the Cape Girardeau county jury pool who was actually questioned about her qualifications to serve on Mr. Ringo's jury was struck for cause at the request of the Prosecuting Attorney and under dubious circumstances. Mr. Ringo was thus tried by an all-white jury in front of a white judge by a white Prosecuting Attorney. Both of the people who died on the night of the offenses were white.
The handing down of the death penalty in America is clearly affected by the color the defendant's skin. African Americans have always been, and continue to be, disproportionately put to death at the hands of the American "justice" system. Currently African Americans account for 42% of the nation's death row population, even though they make up only 13% of the nation's civilian population.
"Missouri, Texas plan executions Wednesday,"is by Jim Salter and Michael Graczyk of Associated Press. It's also available from USA Today.
Two of the nation's most active death penalty states are planning executions Wednesday, even as attorneys for the condemned men try to save them.
Earl Ringo Jr. is scheduled to die at 12:01 a.m. for killing two people during a robbery at a Columbia, Missouri, restaurant in 1998. Hours later, Texas plans to execute Willie Trottie for fatally shooting his common-law wife and her brother in Houston in 1993.
The executions would be the eighth this year in both states. Florida also has performed seven executions in 2014. All other states have a combined six executions.
"Missouri Fights Lethal Injection Suit on Eve of Earl Ringo Execution," is by Tracy Connor of NBC News.
While Texas remains the leading capital-punishment state in America — 16 murderers were put to death in the state last year — Missouri could break its own state record for executions by January. If his appeals fail, Ringo will be the eighth prisoner to enter the death chamber in 2014, the most in 15 years.
State officials have shown no inclination to slow the pace. In fact, Attorney General Chris Koster suggested this year that the prison system should make its own lethal injections so it doesn't have to rely on suppliers that demand anonymity.
Ringo is a plaintiff in the suit the Eighth Circuit will hear en banc, meaning all the judges will weigh in as opposed to a select few. His lawyer said it was not clear if that would help him win a temporary reprieve, noting that courts have declined to issue 11th hour delays for most other inmates involved in the case.