“This de facto moratorium on executions by lethal injection gives us a chance to recognize just how deeply flawed the implementation of capital punishment in this country is,” — Minnesota Senator Russ Feingold who is using the Court’s stay of execution for a Mississippi prisoner to re-introduce his Federal Death Penalty Abolition Act
Nationally, reports The Nation, executions this year are down to 42, their lowest level in a decade.
Of those executions all but one were done via lethal injection. And the Supreme Court’s stay of execution for Mississippi prisoner Earl Berry was, according to the New York Times, an “indisputable indication” that the Court will stop all deaths by lethal injection until next spring.
That’s when the nine justices argue Baze v. Rees, which will determine if death row inmates can challenge the so-called three-drug cocktail used for executions as a violation of 8th amendment prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. Some doctors now argue that the drug combination may sometimes result in inmates being paralyzed but not anesthetized, meaning the final moments of their lives are spent in searing pain, unable to move.
Since the Supreme Court effectively legalized the federal death penalty in 1976, death penalty legislation or even legislative oversight has been nearly non-existent. Feingold’s hearing this summer on death penalty implementation was the first of its kind since 2001– the last time a Democratic majority enabled Feingold to chair a Senate committee.
Full story here: Is The Government Finally Scrutinizing The Death Penalty?