Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A shot in the arm for death penalty foes
When Jeb Bush's Florida botched an execution in December, it proved not only that Florida executioners have bad aim and that capital punishment is rubber and the criminal justice system is glue and that the Bush family is destined to kill and torture, but also that if you're going to administer a lethal injection, it's probably a good idea to have a doctor present. The clumsy Floridians shot sodium thiopental into the inmate's flesh instead of his veins, resulting in a brutal, excruciating slow-death torture not seen in Florida since Katherine Harris puckered her rose-red lips and lustily mouthed the words "hanging chads." Now, three death-row inmates in Kentucky have seized the day by pointing out a legal conundrum: Federal law requires that a doctor administer sodium thiopental but Kentucky law forbids doctors from participating in executions. Public defenders of Thomas Clyde Bowling, Ralph Baze and Jeffrey Leonard are arguing in a federal lawsuit that the conflict effectively makes capital punishment illegal in Kentucky. Similar suits are underway in other states and the matter likely will end up before the U.S. Supreme Court, potentially meaning a technicality could succeed where common sense, morality, social ethics, and lots and lots of money have failed.