Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Home of Sun Baked Brains
No question about it, the Arizona government needs to spend more time indoors and out of the sun. The latest bit of loonytunes to come from that not quite august body concerns state sanctioned executions. The latest protocol from the Arizona department of corrections.
As states have faced challenges to carrying out executions by lethal injection, various work-arounds and alternatives have been proposed, including the return of electric chairs and firing squads. Arizona may have come up with the most original concept yet: an invitation for lawyers to help kill their own clients.How curious that a staunchly right wing state should propose something almost identical to a procefure from the most Communist People's Republic of China which is famous for billing the families of executed prisoners for the bullet that killed them. Politics does have a circular nature.
With drugs that can legally be used for lethal injections in short supply, the Arizona department of corrections’ latest execution protocol states that attorneys for death row inmates are welcome to bring along their own.
The protocol says that “the inmate’s counsel or other third parties acting on behalf of the inmate’s counsel” may provide the department with a sedative, pentobarbital, or an anesthetic, sodium pentothal, if they can obtain it “from a certified or licensed pharmacist, pharmacy, compound pharmacy, manufacturer, or supplier”.
Attorneys, though, said the idea is ludicrous. Megan McCracken, a lethal injection expert at the University of California Berkeley School of Law, said the clause is “unprecedented, wholly novel and frankly absurd. A prisoner or a prisoner’s lawyer simply cannot obtain these drugs legally, or legally transfer them to the department of corrections, so it’s hard to fathom what the Arizona department was thinking in including this nonsensical provision as part of its execution protocol.”
Dale Baich, an assistant federal public defender who works on death penalty cases in Arizona, said he was “at a loss” to explain the provision, which he said presents “ethical issues as well as legal issues. It’s not legal for me as a lawyer to go out and procure drugs for a client. So legally it’s impossible and ethically as well, my job is to make sure that my client’s rights are protected and not to work with the state to ensure that it carries out the execution … If the state wants to have the death penalty it has the duty to figure out how to do it constitutionally, it can’t pass that obligation on to the prisoner or to anyone else.”
The department of corrections did not respond to a request to elaborate on the reasoning behind the clause.
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