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ACLU: Botched Executions Need Scrutiny

Posted Jun 5, 2007 2:56 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A recent execution in Ohio took so long that the convict reportedly needed a bathroom break before he died. That's just one reason why people need to know more about how the death penalty is imposed, including the identity of the executioners, says the American Civil Liberties Union.

The organization's Ohio branch filed suit seeking records after the state's 90-minute effort to execute Christopher Newton on May 24, involving 10 separate attempts. Meanwhile, death penalty opponents say the botched lethal injection is the latest in a series of nationwide problems that show better oversight and open records are needed, reports AP.

Identifying executioners could subject them to harassment, however, and even lead to professional discipline, if they are physicians, since the American Medical Association says executions violate their oath to first do no harm.

Nonetheless, "Public executions should be as public as possible," said Richard Dieter of the Death Penalty Information Center, in Washington, D.C., in an interview with AP. "They supposedly have nothing to hide, and, as with anything government does, it benefits from more scrutiny. For medical personnel, yes, there may be a cost. But that's sort of like the cost that the state, or all of us, bear."

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