Okla. Executes Inmate Dying of Cancer

Bump and Update: The Supreme Court has denied the request for a stay. The execution has taken place. Bland was declared dead at 6:19 pm. I hope for his sake they started late -- 19 minutes is a long time.


I can only imagine how the civilized world will view this story. Jimmy Dale Bland is set to be executed at 6pm tonight in Oklahoma.

Bland has advanced lung cancer which has spread to his hip and brain. He's terminally ill and will die soon on his own.

The Oklahoma state and federal courts have denied a stay, insisting the state has the right to kill him before he expires on his own.

In a dissenting opinion, Judge Charles Chapel of Tulsa said a stay should be granted to protect "the dignity of society itself from the barbarity of exacting mindless vengeance."

A last-minute decision from the Supreme Court is expected any time now.


[Defense Attorney] Autry has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block Bland's execution, scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, and decide whether executing a terminally ill inmate violates the Constitution's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. The court had not ruled on the request Tuesday afternoon.

Stay tuned, I'll be following this.

Update: Scribe has a diary on the Oklahoma Court's decision upholding Bland's death sentence.

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  • Display: Sort:
    If this isn't proof (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by HK on Tue Jun 26, 2007 at 03:17:47 PM EST
    that the death penalty has vengence at its heart, I don't know what is.

    Who here is holding their breath for SCOTUS? (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by lilybart on Tue Jun 26, 2007 at 03:24:28 PM EST
    These Opus Dei Catholics would like to kill him themselves.

    My first thoughts were the same (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Edger on Tue Jun 26, 2007 at 04:07:46 PM EST
    as yours HK, and yours kdog.

    My third though on reading this was to wonder how the other Judges who did not dissent justified the ruling.

    It seems they must have gone through some (to me at least) rather extreme contortions of logic to arrive at this:

    the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals voted 3-2 to deny a stay, with the majority writing that prohibiting the execution of a terminally ill person "would mean the death sentence could not be carried out before the natural expiration of a person's life."

    Edger (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by HK on Tue Jun 26, 2007 at 05:10:40 PM EST
    I don't know whether to laugh or cry over the fact that they don't see the irony in that statement.  In retrospect, part of me is surprised that the DA didn't seek to move the appeals process along quicker on those same grounds.

    It's quite an amazing statement isn't it? (none / 0) (#9)
    by Edger on Tue Jun 26, 2007 at 05:29:55 PM EST
    prohibiting the execution of a terminally ill person "would mean the death sentence could not be carried out before the natural expiration of a person's life."

    First, it's a claim that the death sentence is an un-natural ending of a life. I suppose un-natural ending is one of the intents of the death penalty.

    But from a metaphysical (reality) standpoint - how can anything that can happen be "un-natural"? Which seems to imply that death by execution is a "natural expiration of a person's life".

    How can prohibiting any execution mean that the death sentence could not be carried out before the natural expiration of a person's life if execution is a natural end to a life?

    I'm a little dizzy here now, but I personally think the choice should be up to Jimmy Dale Bland. Of course giving him that choice would remove all power the state has over him.

    IMO, he has that choice anyway, by virtue of being human and probably creative enough to find a way, even in his prison, to end his own life if he so chose.

    What if he chooses to let the state execute him as his method of ending his own life, but chooses to pretend to the state that he opposes them executing him?

    The state is powerless, IOW, except where we grant it power.

    The ruling is a denial of that fact, IMO.

    How'm I doing so far?


    And furthermore... (none / 0) (#10)
    by Edger on Tue Jun 26, 2007 at 05:37:00 PM EST
    What if he chooses to let the state execute him as his method of ending his own life, but chooses to pretend to the state that he opposes them executing him?

    Is that suicide? Suicide is illegal in most places that I know of.

    Should he be prohibited by the court from doing that?

    What are they going to do if he suicides that way? Arrest him, try him, convict him, and sentence him to death?


    And (none / 0) (#11)
    by Edger on Tue Jun 26, 2007 at 05:42:30 PM EST
    What would they do if he comes right out and states that he will commit suicide by not appealing the sentence and letting the state execute him?

    What does Mr. Bland have to say? (4.50 / 2) (#3)
    by kdog on Tue Jun 26, 2007 at 03:33:42 PM EST
    I ask because if I was that sick, I might be looking up Jack Kevorkian's number.  I wonder if Mr. Bland wants his life saved from the execution chamber, only to die slow and painful from the cancer.

    And why give him chemo?  If he's due to be killed, why go through all that senseless, sickening chemo treatment.  That seems cruel and unusual right there.

    it could be his way of saying (none / 0) (#17)
    by Jen M on Tue Jun 26, 2007 at 07:17:44 PM EST
    Please don't throw me in the briar patch

    I'm not sure I see the relevance of his (4.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Geekesque on Tue Jun 26, 2007 at 05:26:06 PM EST
    cancer condition.  For people suffering from a horrible disease, they should just let the agony of death be prolonged?

    The problem, of course, is the death penalty itself.

    On, perhaps, a more bizarre note... (none / 0) (#6)
    by HK on Tue Jun 26, 2007 at 05:23:03 PM EST
    I just checked my email and got an update on Patrick Knight in Texas who has asked supporters to send in jokes out of which he will choose one for his last words.  He is also scheduled to be executed tonight.

    A Department of Corrections spokeswoman said (presumably with a straight face, but I don't know how):

    "Everybody who is there takes it very seriously and will not be participating in the joke," she said. "So knock-knock jokes are out."

    How about "tell your wife I say thanks"? (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by roy on Tue Jun 26, 2007 at 06:31:15 PM EST
    This really throws into sharp relief (none / 0) (#8)
    by Alien Abductee on Tue Jun 26, 2007 at 05:28:49 PM EST
    what the death penalty is all about - justice as nothing but vengeance, and the power of the state to enforce it.

    As the victim's family says:

    "He's had enough compassion... He's had enough mercy. We need some justice here."

    I put up a diary and (none / 0) (#12)
    by scribe on Tue Jun 26, 2007 at 06:19:21 PM EST
    worked over the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals' opinion, here.

    You should go read it.

    I was hoping you would, scribe. (none / 0) (#13)
    by Edger on Tue Jun 26, 2007 at 06:20:49 PM EST
    I will go read it. I hope everyone does.

    Thanks for that (none / 0) (#16)
    by Alien Abductee on Tue Jun 26, 2007 at 07:08:35 PM EST

    ...never mind not executing him, why not just send him home?

    What if he had 2 weeks to live? 4? 52?

    How about the same prognoses, but the guy wasn't on DR, would you send him home then?

    What is the point that it's OK to vacate someone's sentence?

    For the record, as many of you know, in general I am a DP supporter, though I certainly don't see the purpose in executing this guy - or even keeping him in jail.

    My question is, though, where is the line drawn? Has to be line somewhere, right?

    You can't just make it up as you go, then there would be even more sentencing inequities than we have already.

    Executions for sale... (none / 0) (#18)
    by Aaron on Tue Jun 26, 2007 at 10:35:31 PM EST
    ...get your red-hot executions right here!

    I've got a good idea for making this execution thing work out for everyone.  All we have to do is hook up the bloodthirsty prosecutors, judges and masses, who either get off on the satisfaction of killing, or needed to further their careers by padding their résumé with a string of deaths, and pare them up with patients who are dying of bone, colorectal, brain etc. cancers, and everybody could reap the benefits, so to speak.

    The murderers who are sentenced to death can start spending their time searching for cancer victims suffering in terrible agony, and convince them agree to a transfer of sentence for a price.  The criminals take over financial responsibility for the families of the executed cancer patients, and patients get a lethal injection, à la Jack Kevorkian, that they desire.  Everybody's happy, or at least relieved.  

    Its basic capitalism, get those together who have something to sell, with those who want to buy or trade in this case.  Death is coming for us all, it's time we started making him pay, and start making a contribution to the greater good.

    healthcare costs (none / 0) (#19)
    by TCKelly on Fri Jul 13, 2007 at 08:55:28 AM EST
    that's one way to cut healthcare costs. /sarcasm