Florida Court Considers "Shake and Shout" Execution Procedure
As the Supreme Court considers whether lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment, Florida, whose procedures have also come under state challenge (background here, here and here) has also been holding hearings.
Florida's leading death penalty case, Lightbourne, didn't focus on the lethal cocktail he'll likely be shot up with but the records and abilities of the lethal-injectors themselves -- an issue that came to the fore with the Department of Corrections' botched execution of Miami killer Angel Diaz, who took 34 minutes to die on Dec. 13.
Florida's Department of Corrections made some changes after the Diaz execution. Check out the "Shake and Shout" procedure the states' attorney is defending:
The first part of the procedure is the same: The injector, called a ''sticker'' by Justice Charlie T. Wells, puts the needles in, and the executioner then plunges the first drug, sodium pentothal, into the body of the condemned to knock him out.
Now, however, the executioner must pause as a warden then approaches the condemned, brushes his eyelids for a reaction, jostles him and yells his name -- a period called the ``shake and shout.''
If the condemned is determined to be knocked out, the paralytic drug pancuronium bromide is shot into him, followed by potassium chloride to stop his heart.
One justice expressed this concern:
'My only concern, and I don't know if it's a constitutional concern . . . is the process of assessing consciousness has not been formalized in any document,'' said Justice Barbara Pariente. ``How do we ensure that that process is going to be competently performed?''
The State's attorney responded:
Kenneth S. Nunnelley, said the warden is trained in CPR and that the ''shake and shout'' is a basic test that can competently ``be performed by a layperson.''
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