US executions on hold awaiting Supreme Court ruling

by Fanny Carrier
Sun Oct 21, 4:46 PM ET 

I don’t know if it is me or what but I just don’t get how criminals on death row who have were proven guilty have the right to file a complaint that their executions by lethal injections are considered “cruel and unusual punishment”.  Do they not consider the reason they are there in the first place and the fact that they murdered someone and that their act of murder was considered not only “cruel and unusual” and that they murdered an innocent person for their own gains or in the process of saisfying their sexuality obsessions, etc.  Did they not take into consideration that taking someone’s life is also considered “cruel” to say the least.  Yet they have the nerve to say that they deserve a better and more civil execution procedure. 

What right did they give their victims? 

PhotoWASHINGTON (AFP) – A month after the US Supreme Court agreed to wade into the lethal injection debate, executions are effectively on hold across the nation as courts and politicians sit tight amid a legal limbo.

On September 25, the country’s highest court agreed to examine whether lethal injections — used in virtually all US executions — are “cruel and unusual” punishment, as banned under the US constitution.

Since it accepted to take up the case, all but one of the executions scheduled in the past four weeks around the country have been postponed, and only a handful are still due to take place before the end of the year.

“In effect we do have a moratorium. There is no determination by the US Supreme Court that no execution can happen. It’s more of a wait-and-see,” said Richard Dieter from the Death Penalty Information Center.

“This may not remove anybody from death row, it might just require some changes in lethal injection procedures and then executions might increase next year or so.”

Rights activists argue that lethal injections can be painful. During an execution, three drugs are administered to the condemned person: one to sedate him, one to paralyze him, and one to stop the heart.

However, this is not always done by a medical professional. While the prisoner may appear calm, several studies and botched executions have shown that death may in fact be prolonged and quite painful.

In Florida in December, Angel Nieves Diaz grimaced and shook for more than 30 minutes before finally suffering convulsions and dying.

Authorities later found that the needles were inserted too far and the lethal cocktail had been injected outside his veins.

In 2006, there were 53 executions in the United States, all but one through lethal injection.

Now though, executions appear to have been put on hold almost by default, apart from the controversial execution of Michael Richard in Texas, just hours after the Supreme Court’s decision.

This week the execution of a convicted murderer in Nevada was stayed at the 11th hour after an appeal by rights groups over the method of lethal injection to be used.

William Castillo had been due to be executed at 8:30 pm on Monday October 15 but was spared following a last-ditch legal bid by the American Civil Liberties Union to the Nevada Supreme Court.

In Virginia, Christopher Emmett won a reprieve late Wednesday just four hours before he was due to die for murdering a colleague.

The US Supreme Court ruled he could not be executed before his appeal had been considered by the federal Appeals Court. In fact, the federal court is unlikely to rule before the Supreme Court has delivered its own verdict on the constitutionality of lethal injections.

Amid such murky legal waters, the Supreme Court in Georgia on Thursday also postponed the scheduled execution of Jack Alderman, sentenced to death for murdering his wife in 1974.

And in other states the legal uncertainty has prompted governors and judges to stay all executions until the Supreme Court’s ruling.

But supporters of the death penalty say that this temporary suspension of the death penalty is likely to be short-lived, since the Supreme Court decision could lead to a resumption or even an acceleration of executions.

“The Supreme Court has never said that any form of execution was unconstitutional, and that includes firing squads and the electric chair,” said Michael Rushford, president of a victims’ defense group called the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation.

“This is a side-show, it has created delays in executions. The court will uphold, maybe they’ll make some suggestions in the decision about trained personnel doing the lethal injections.

“And the result will be that this tactic which has been used on and off for about at least 5 years to hold up executions will be gone, so in the future, once this method of execution is verified as not unconstitutional, there will be little to stop the states from going ahead and executing their worst murderers.”

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Florida Prison Halts Kosher Meals for Jewish Inmates, Halal Meals for Muslims

Thursday, August 23, 2007

MIAMI  —  Jewish inmates who follow strict religious diets at Florida prisons are no longer provided meals in line with their beliefs. Muslims must now eat vegan food to satisfy their religious requirements.

[Well excuse me, I thought that when one commits a crime and is sentenced to serve time in prison I didn’t think it was meant to treat them with respect and honor their requests as to special needs when it comes to meals based on religion.  Why is it once in prison they suddenly decide they are religious and demand special treatment.  If they were that religious to begin with why then were they in prison?  Can you imagine catering meals based on every personal faith of each prisoner?  It’s ludicrous to even think to put a plan like that in effect would make sense let alone be cost effective.  

I remember a few years back reading how the prisoners here in Florida were upset because they pulled the plug on their cable TV meaning they no longer had access to the HBO stations.  I thought damn, I personally can’t afford HBO yet my tax money was paying for prisoners to have TV privileges that I couldn’t afford myself.   

Anyway, when I read the following article I thought here we go again!!  Is it just me or what?…..flagranny2]

The Corrections Department has ended the Jewish Dietary Accommodation Program, which provided kosher meals to not only Jews, but to Muslims as well, because the state prison system does not offer halal food. Cost — and fairness — were cited as factors.

“We have 100 faiths represented by DOC inmates, so it would be impossible to satisfy everyone’s preferences and unfair to do it for one group and not another,” agency spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said. “We just have to look at what our mission is and what’s best for our overall department and the overall population of inmates in our system instead of a smaller group.”

The department has suspended use of pork products in an attempt to appease religious adherents and will continue to serve vegetarian and vegan meals. It said many Jews and Muslims could choose the vegan option, which is free of any animal products, to adhere to their faiths.

But for the strict followers of kosher and halal diets, it is far from ideal.

Rabbi Jack Romberg of Temple Israel in Tallahassee, who was a member of a group that reviewed religious dietary accommodations in prisons, noted that unless the vegan food is prepared separately from other meals, it would not satisfy kosher law. Ahmed Bedier of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Tampa said vegan food would meet the religious requirements of those who follow a halal diet, but would cause undue hardship.  [Full Story]