Friday, January 26, 2007
North Carolina was scheduled to execute Marcus Robinson today, but the Wake Superior Court stayed Robinson's execution along with the February 9 execution of James Thomas, another NC death row inmate, because the state had made changes to its execution process, specifically the role doctors and nurses would play in the execution process, without getting the necessary approval. The stays come in the wake of the North Carolina Medical Board's refusal to allow doctors and nurses to participate in executions. Under the new policy, doctors and nurses employed by the prison system won't be desciplined for "merely being 'present' during an execution," but are forbidden from administering the lethal drugs or physically assisting with the execution.
The North Carolina Medical Board ruling comes as the state continues its debate about the humaneness of its lethal injection protocols. Defense attorneys have argued that only anesthesiologists or trained medical professionals can tell if an inmate is unconscious before being put to death. They argue that the state's protocol could result in an inmate waking up during the procedure but being paralyzed and unable to express pain before dying. Currently, the North Carolina Department of Corrections uses a brain wave monitor and heart monitor to evaluate the status of a person being executed. The machines are watched from a small viewing room established for doctors or nurses who are employed by the prison system. Full Story from NewsObserver.com. . . [Michele Berry]