One-Minute Book Reviews

November 26, 2022

What’s Behind the Scary Rise in Bungled Executions?

Filed under: Uncategorized — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 8:25 pm
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Earlier this month, Alabama botched the execution of Kenneth Eugene Smith, the third inmate it has tried unsuccessfully to put to death since 2018. In each case an attempted lethal injection went horrifically awry.

The state’s latest mangled execution was so cruel and incompetent it caused an outcry. Smith was strapped to a gurney for hours as officials tried to insert the two intravenous lines needed for the lethal drugs used by Alabama.

Elizabeth Bruenig of the Atlantic spoke to Smith later and learned that his executioners managed to place a needle in his left arm. Afterward they “tortured” him by stabbing his right arm and hand and his feet in vain.

The execution was called off after the hapless team decided that they couldn’t insert the second line before Smith’s death warrant expired at midnight. The disaster eerily resembled a fiasco two months earlier in which Alabama executioners tried to kill Alan Eugene Miller but couldn’t insert an IV line in the time his warrant allowed.³

Yet — as incredible as it sounds — such blunders in the state’s death chambers aren’t new, nor are they unique to the state. In 2018 Alabama’s death squad spent hours trying to insert an IV line into Doyle Lee Hamm. They gave up about a half hour before his warrant would expire.

In July 2022, Alabama executioners did manage to kill Joe Nathan James. But they succeeded only after trying for hours to gain access to his veins and apparently performing the medical procedure known as a cutdown. Bruenig spoke to Joel Zivot, an Emory University expert on lethal injections, who examined James’ body.

I wrote about this alarming trend in Alabama and other states and what’s being done about it Medium:

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