The movement may be glacial in speed, but slowly and surely this country is moving away from capital punishment. Case in point: the Supreme Court granted a rare last minute stay for Cleve Foster, a Texas man who who was scheduled for execution last week.
The Court granted the stay because Texas had planned on executing Foster with a band new and untested lethal injection protocol. Should the protocol fail to work Foster would suffer excruciating pain during the execution.
Typically states that use lethal injection employ a three-drug combination. But one of those drugs, sodium thiopental, an anesthetic and first drug administered, is in short supply. When Texas ran out of sodium thiopental the state announced with was substituting pentobarbital in its place.
The move was immediately challenged since there was no evidence that Texas ever engaged in any study of whether or not pentobarbital could or should be used in combination with the other drugs.
That news comes as no surprise to those who advocate for the elimination of capital punishment. A close examination of the Texas death penalty system shows the executions of humans is done in a fashion that is riskier, less transparent, and subject to less oversight than the euthanasia of dogs, cats, birds and lizards.
Advocates have called for a stay of all executions in Texas until the state legislature can enact measures that provide, at a minimum, the same protections to human beings on death row as it provides to animals. With six more scheduled executions through August, now would be the perfect time for the state to conduct such an audit, though given Gov. Rick Perry’s almost gleeful approach to executions, such a move is unlikely.
photo courtesy of analobb via Flickr