The making of an execution

Updated

Troy Davis reportedly will refuse his “special” last meal, because he believes an eleventh-hour legal miracle will save him before he is executed tonight at 7:00pm Eastern. He was denied relief yet again this morning by the Georgia pardons and parole board. Mr. Davis also asked the state for a lie-detector test, a chance to prove that his professions of innocence have merit and that his execution should be stayed.

The state of Georgia said no to that, too:

Defense lawyer Stephen Marsh told The Associated Press that the Georgia Department of Corrections denied his request to allow Davis to take a polygraph test. Marsh had said he hoped the polygraph would convince the state pardons board to reconsider a decision against clemency.

Thus, it is sadly ironic that under normal circumstances, Georgia would kill Troy Davis tonight with “truth serum.”

Delivered in extremely high doses, what is also known as sodium thiopental used to be the preferred drug for lethal injections in the United States. The state of Georgia was so addicted to the death penalty that, as Rachel described last night, the state bought a bootleg supply from “Dream Pharma,” based in a London driving school (and killed two prisoners with it). The Drug Enforcement Agency, learning of this, cut off the supply cold turkey.

Georgia went foraging for something new and decided on pentobarbital, a barbituate used to euthanize animals – the drug is not for humans. The Danish company that trademarks it as Nembutal agrees, but Georgia (and other states) forged ahead. Georgia used the drug in two executions, and plans to use it again tonight on Mr. Davis. Rachel described its effects:

The first time Georgia nevertheless used Nembutal to kill a prisoner, reporters who witnessed the execution said the man being killed, quote, “jerked his head several times throughout the procedure and muttered after the drug was injected and he was supposed to be asleep.”

At the exact same time as Mr. Davis is to be sent to his death tonight, Governor Rick Perry is scheduled to add to his record tally of state-sponsored death. One of the men who lynched James Byrd, Jr. is also scheduled to die by lethal injection in Texas. Lawrence Brewer’s guilt is not in question, and his crime was beyond description. But the death penalty is not a fence-sitting issue.

For his part, Mr. Byrd’s son doesn’t think this is justice:

You can’t fight murder with murder,” Ross Byrd, 32, told Reuters late Tuesday, the night before Wednesday’s scheduled execution of Lawrence Russell Brewer for one of the most notorious hate crimes in modern times.

“Life in prison would have been fine. I know he can’t hurt my daddy anymore. I wish the state would take in mind that this isn’t what we want.”

Texas also uses pentobarbital for lethal injections.

Georgia and Texas

The making of an execution

Updated