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April 28, 2007

(Not-so-)shocking execution concerns

Nebraska, the only state to still rely exclusively on the electric chair for carrying out death sentences, is scheduled to execute Carey Dean Moore on May 8.  But, as this AP story details, a new execution protocol is ― surprise, surprise ― prompting legal challenges:

The state's new method of electrocution ― a single, sustained jolt instead of several shorter ones ― could leave the condemned's heart beating well after the shock, backers and foes of the protocol say. The macabre image of a strapped-down inmate, possibly brain dead but with a pulsating heart, could sharpen an already tense debate as Nebraska, the only state with the electric chair as its sole means of execution, prepares to put to death its first prisoner in a decade.

No one's sure the inmate's heart would continue to beat after the current stopped, but the possibility has caused a furor among capital punishment opponents since it was broached by the doctor who almost single-handedly revised Nebraska's execution protocol.  Carey Dean Moore is to die May 8 through an untested system of sending 2,450 volts through his body for 20 seconds.

Death penalty opponents are stepping up legal challenges to the execution, mainly on the grounds that the chair is cruel and unusual punishment.  And the Legislature narrowly defeated a bill last month that would have repealed the death penalty.

Some related posts about electrocutions and execution methods:

April 28, 2007 at 10:53 AM | Permalink

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Comments

Once again, a bunch of self-appointed moral scolds will show how they care more about murderers than either justice or the victim's family. Don't they have better uses of their time?

Let's fry this SOB and be done with it.

Posted by: federalist | Apr 30, 2007 7:58:42 AM

Nice to see another bleeding-heart conservative at work above. It's easier to yell "Fry 'im!!!" than to actually put thought into the issue.

Posted by: | Apr 30, 2007 6:45:35 PM

There isn't much thought required. First, the victims' families want this thing over, which execution will do. Second, frying this guy will prevent him from ever harming someone else. Third, frying this guy will save money (since the money to get him to this point has already been spent) on his future health care, incarceration costs etc.

All in all, a pretty easy calculus.

Posted by: federalist | May 1, 2007 8:45:54 AM

You failed to mention that Mr. Moore is volunteering to have his sentence carried out. He may not deserve to be killed by the State of Nebraska, but that is the law here.

He knew he might have electrocution coming when he murdered two cabbies for chump change. Life on death row in the Nebraska Penitentiary is something not every condemned penitent is willing or able to endure.

Posted by: ptg | May 2, 2007 12:08:33 PM

I think there is little doubt that Moore deserves his fate.

Posted by: federalist | May 2, 2007 1:31:19 PM

Remember that article about Nebraska wanting to kill Carey Dean Moore on May 8 with one long zap instead of several shorter zaps?
http://sentencing.typepad.com/sentencing_law_and_policy/2007/04/notsoshocking_l.html

I asked Mr. Leuchter, designer of death equipment, what would happen if they followed this procedure. I don't want to hear a lecture about "Dr. Death", I just want to share his knowledge with you.
Kay Lee

Dear Kay,

Definitely a problem. Two sustained jolts of at least one minute each are needed. The first jolt renders the executee unconscious and the second.....after all the chemicals (adrenaline, acetylcoline and sympathin) which can restart the heart are dissipated....will seize the pacemaker in the heart. Since all the above chemicals were dissipated between the jolts there will be nothing left to restart the heart.

A time of at least ten seconds should precede the second jolt. Deviation from this procedure is asking for trouble. Of the many prior executions that were properly done we learned a number of things. The voltage must exceed 2000 VAC on both jolts and two jolts are required. Even then it there are no guarantees.

After the first few medically supervised executions in New York State the doctors gave up and ran out leaving the electricians/executioners to deal with the problem. The doctors determined that they learned nothing from the executions and autopsies of which they were a part except for the two facts mentioned above and that even then they could not guarantee the humanity of the execution. The Human Body is too unpredictable.

If electrocution had been re-challanged before the U.S. Supreme Court under Kemmler at that time it would have failed as being unpredictable and cruel and unusual. Unfortunately, no one cared. If an electrocution is conducted with all the best and modern equipment (which Nebraska obviously does not have) I can only expect a 60/40 chance of an acceptable execution (one which is visibly humane) and a 40/60 chance of a humane (painless one). With the present procedure in Nebraska I would expect they have about a 20% chance of a humane execution. The Doctor who wrote the protocol should be ashamed of himself for not doing the proper research and has opened himself for a lawsuit. As most of us, professionals he "knew or should have known" what he was doing.

I hope that Nebraska's DOC comes to its senses before it tortures another helpless individual or creates a human vegetable.

If you know who represents Mr. Moore and can put him in touch with me I will be willing to supply him with an affidavit as to what will happen.

I enclose a copy of the protocol I wrote for the State of Tennessee before they turned the System I designed for them into a torture device.
Stay in touch,
Fred

Posted by: Kay Lee | May 2, 2007 4:33:54 PM

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