Friday, January 16, 2015

Death Penalty: Meet The New Year (Same As The Old Year)

Oklahoma Revs Up Death Machinery For New Year:

With a renovated death chamber, new training and a higher dose of drugs, Oklahoma on Thursday carried out its first execution since April, when the slipshod, prolonged killing of Clayton D. Lockett led the state to suspend lethal injections and change its procedures.

“Charles Frederick Warner was pronounced dead at 7:28 p.m.,” said Jerry Massie, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Corrections Department. “The execution has been carried out.”

Officials here had waited to see whether the United States Supreme Court would grant a last-minute stay. But as the scheduled time passed, the court announced that it would not prevent Oklahoma from putting Mr. Warner to death.

A sharp dissent written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and endorsed by three other members of the court, held that the drug combination being used in Oklahoma risked causing severe, unconstitutional suffering. But the other five justices voted without comment to deny the appeal for a stay.
I wrote about the "Oklahoma Butcher Shop" last spring. Apparently, not all was so smooth in this one either.
According to journalists who witnessed the 18-minute procedure, it did not appear that Mr. Warner suffered great pain and he appeared to lose consciousness quickly. As the injections began, however, he said “my body is on fire.” Intravenous lines were inserted into each of his arms, and he called out that he had been “poked five times.”

In his final words, he apologized for the pain he had caused, saying: “I am not a monster.”
Warner wasn't the first to get whacked in the new year. The ignominious title "first in the nation," when it comes to the death penalty, goes to the State of Georgia, who Tuesday night executed a decorated Vietnam veteran who had been diagnosed with PTSD and other forms of mental illnesses, before the crime which landed him on death row.
In the first execution carried out in the US in 2015, last night Georgia put to death a decorated Vietnam War veteran who had been diagnosed with severe mental illness before he killed a deputy sheriff after a traffic stop in 1998.

On Tuesday, at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison, 66-year-old Andrew Brannan received visits from five family members, one friend and a pastor. He told reporters that he had been “in a status of slow torture” in the decade and a half since the crime, and said he was not sad to be leaving the prison.

Outside the facility, guards cordoned off one area of the wet, cold grass for anti-death penalty activists. A different section was designated for members of law enforcement who came to honor the memory of slain Deputy Sheriff Kyle Dinkheller. But the feelings on the execution between the two groups were not so clearly separated. Some in law enforcement seemed genuinely concerned about Brannan’s history as a veteran.
If you watch the vehicle camera footage of the killing (and it is admittedly difficult to watch) it's pretty clear Brannan was out of his head and seemingly out of touch with reality.

But, when it comes to the death penalty, what's service to your country, a Bronze Star, and the often attendant mental illness that comes with being in combat?
Numerous veterans spoke out in an attempt to stay his execution.

“What does putting a man like Andrew Brannan to death say to my generation of veterans? To me, it says that this country can exploit our youth to its gain and then, when it comes time, this country, and the State of Georgia, will discard you like yesterday’s forgotten garbage,” Sion New, a veteran of the Iraq and the Afghanistan wars and law student at Emory University, wrote to the state’s Board of Pardons and Paroles. In Georgia, the decision to grant clemency is not made by the governor but by the Board, whose members are appointed by the governor.
Which by the way, is Georgia's way of ensuring some lunatic governor doesn't go all cray and start commuting death sentences.
A Korean War veteran faced the death penalty for killing his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend in 1986. The US Supreme Court threw out the veteran’s death sentence in 2009, saying that the “intense stress and mental and emotional toll” of combat experience needed to be considered by a jury. “Our nation has a long tradition of according leniency to veterans in recognition of their service, especially for those who fought on the front lines,” the court wrote.
Except when it doesn't.

Regardless, throw in another execution in Florida last night, and the Death Penalty's new year is off to a banging start.

Meet the new death machinery; same as the old death machinery.

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