Call to Action: Urge Florida Governor Rick Scott to Stay the Execution of Robert Henry

Call to Action: Urge Florida Governor Rick Scott to Stay the Execution of Robert Henry
Drug Cocktail Used for Lethal Injection is Cruel and Unusual Punishment

National Lawyers Guild (NLG) urges Florida Governor Rick Scott to stay Robert Henry’s execution, scheduled for March 20. Given lack of medical support for a new protocol for lethal injections in Florida, the practice of using Midazolam, a drug not approved by the FDA, appears to be inhumane and in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

In September 2013, Florida changed its protocol from using barbiturates in step one of its three-step injection process, which put inmates in a state similar to a coma before a second, paralyzing drug is administered. Barbiturate sources have become scarce, however. In response to the drug shortage Florida calls for the anti-anxiety medication Midazolam, which is not an approved substitute for anesthesia. Some anesthesiologists have reports that the drug’s ineffective sedative properties may yield a feeling similar to being buried alive for the individual who received the drug cocktail.

If the recent execution in Ohio is any indication, Robert Henry will endure excruciating pain and suffering, and a sensation of suffocation, until he succumbs to the final lethal injection. Witnesses to the Ohio execution of Denis McGuire last month reported that he choked, snorted, gasped, and struggled until giving way to the chemicals injected into his body nearly 25 minutes after the initial injection. William Happ, the last prisoner executed in Florida, remained conscious for longer than usual after the initial injection, and made more body movements after losing consciousness, according to witnesses.

As long as the state decides to continue the practice of capital punishment, the NLG contends that the process must comport with the law. According to a 2011 Supreme Court of Florida case, Valle v. State, “the condemned inmate’s lack of consciousness is the focus of the constitutional inquiry” as to whether an execution is legal. Robert Henry’s execution will not meet this standard.

While the NLG opposes the death penalty in any circumstance, it is particularly disturbed by this pending execution as a violation of both the U.S. and Florida Constitutions. We call on Gov. Scott to stay the execution of Robert Henry and issue an executive order imposing a moratorium on capital punishment in Florida.

Take action to defend the Eighth Amendment. Tell Governor Scott to stop the execution of Robert Henry TODAY!

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