Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Update on Troy Anthony Davis (Part 4)

A decent account in today's Weekly Reader of Troy Davis' last day as he preps for the executioner tonight (the reporter has either taken my class or has read Robert Johnson's "Deathwork").

Davis' day will run according to a schedule the Department of Corrections follows in the hours leading up to an execution -- a final goodbye to family, a last meal, the chance for Davis to make a final statement.

For the most part, activity today at the Diagnostic and Classification Prison, the home for all Georgia executions, will be as it has been for 28 previous executions.

According to prison policies, Davis was put on "death watch" days ago, with an officer assigned to watch him at all times to ensure he does not try to take his own life.

One of the ironies of capital punishment: elaborate Suicide Prevention Measures on Death Row. Ain't no way we're gonna letcha cheat the executioner, brother.

Anonymous members of the prison's execution team have rehearsed their respective roles. Today, officers -- even those not directly assigned to the execution -- will remove any badges or patches that identify them. .

Davis and his family will have six hours together -- 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. -- in a special visitation room before they say "good-bye."

After his family leaves the prison for the last time, that is when officials begin the final preparations for his death.

Davis will get a physical and clean clothes at 3 p.m., and an hour later his final meal.

I know, right? A physical? Basically this is the state's way of ensuring that nothing goes wrong; that no one has slipped him something that might counteract with the three-drug cocktail they will give him later.

Davis has asked to have the same thing for dinner that the rest of the 2,100 inmates will have Wednesday – a cheeseburger, potatoes, baked beans, slaw, cookies and a grape drink.

At 5 p.m. Davis can make a recorded final statement, one that is longer than the one he can make once he is strapped to the gurney in the death chamber.

He will be allowed to pass the time listening to music, reading, watching television and talking on the telephone. And all the while a prison guard will take meticulous notes of everything he does, how much he eats or doesn't eat and his mood.

An hour before he is scheduled to die, Davis will be offered a sedative to calm him.

Another irony: drugs to calm you for the drugs.

Once the witnesses are seated, Davis will be placed in view with IVs in both arms. The warden will read the death warrant and Davis will be offered a chance for final words. The lethal injection process will begin, injecting a cocktail of drugs in Davis that will kill him within minutes.
A cocktail of drugs, remember, that has been procured on the black market and previously seized by the DEA as contraband.

What the story doesn't conclude with is this: following his death, the body will be removed from the prison and sent to the GBI State Crime Lab in Atlanta where an official autopsy will be performed.

A death certificate will then be signed by the medical examiner stating the official cause of death: Homicide.

UPDATE: Got 'im.
Proclaiming his innocence, Troy Davis was put to death by lethal injection on Wednesday night, his life — and the hopes of supporters worldwide — prolonged by several hours while the Supreme Court reviewed but then declined to act on a petition from his lawyers to stay the execution.

Mr. Davis remained defiant at the end, according to reporters who witnessed his death. He looked directly at the members of the family of Mark MacPhail, the officer he was convicted of killing, and told them they had the wrong man.

“I did not personally kill your son, father, brother,” he said. “All I can ask is that you look deeper into this case so you really can finally see the truth.”

He then told his supporters and family to “keep the faith” and said to prison personnel, “May God have mercy on your souls; may God bless your souls.”

UPDATE II: A powerful statement from six corrections officials (including a mentor of mine, and former warden at Jackson, Dr. Allen Ault) on the Davis execution.

We write to you as former wardens and corrections officials who have had direct involvement in executions. Like few others in this country, we understand that you have a job to do in carrying out the lawful orders of the judiciary. We also understand, from our own personal experiences, the awful lifelong repercussions that come from participating in the execution of prisoners. While most of the prisoners whose executions we participated in accepted responsibility for the crimes for which they were punished, some of us have also executed prisoners who maintained their innocence until the end. It is those cases that are most haunting to an executioner.

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