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You Wouldn’t Do a Dog This Way

by ELIZABETH WEILL-GREENBERG

South Carolina is pushing forward with the execution of David Clayton Hill, despite an order from a federal judge directing the state to investigate its lethal injection procedures.

Lethal injection, contrary to popular myth, is not a peaceful way to die.

According to Hill, South Carolina does not give inmates enough thiopental, the drug which causes the inmate to lose consciousness. If Mr. Hill is executed on March 19–as the state wants–he may remain conscious through the other drugs’ effects. This means, he could suffer a heart attack, while suffocating. He will be paralyzed throughout the execution from the thiopental.

The chemical used in lethal injection to induce a heart attack–pavulon–is found inhumane to euthanize animals in South Carolina and nineteen other states. Pavulon is banned in South Carolina.

“You wouldn’t do a dog this way,” said Jerome Nickerson, Hill’s attorney in a phone interview. “The state of South Carolina needs to investigate its procedures for lethal injection as the federal court has directed.”

Last Thursday, a federal judge in Charleston stayed Hill’s execution based on concerns about whether the South Carolina Department of Corrections was administering sufficient quantities of thiopental during the execution process. The judge ordered further investigation into those procedures and found that Hill “raise[s] issues concerning the procedure used in South Carolina and whether it is adequate to safeguard against the wanton infliction of pain.”

Since 1998 one out of every two executions is botched, claim Hill’s attorneys.

Although required by the public records act, the Department of Corrections, according to Hill’s attorneys, have refused to turn over toxicology information on executions. David Barron, one of Hill’s attorneys, claims anyone executed in South Carolina has a fifty percent chance of being conscious throughout the execution..

Hill is not alone in his opposition to lethal injection.

Last month, the Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division halted all executions in New Jersey, arguing that the state’s regulations for lethal injection killings “appear to be arbitrary and unreasonable.” The court ordered that the New Jersey Department of Corrections study its regulations before executing any inmates.

And the US Supreme Court has agreed to hear Nelson v. Campbell, brought by an inmate who wishes to challenge the procedures of lethal injection.

Our technology for execution may appear more advanced than the electric chair, but it still remains cruel.

URGENT ACTION: Call Governor Sanford and ask that South Carolina respect the decision of the federal court. Ask Governor Sanford to stop the execution of Hill.

Governor Sanford: 803.734.2100 (p)

E-mail: governor@govoepp.state.sc.us

This request is meant in no way to disrespect the pain felt by the victim’s family. David Hill was sentenced to death in 1995, in Georgetown, South Carolina, for the murder of Deputy Chief of Police Major Spencer Guerry.

For more information on Hill visit http://www.castine.net/deathpenalty.htm

ELIZABETH WEILL-GREENBERG is a graduate student at Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern. She can be reached at: e-weill-greenberg@northwestern.edu

 

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