In May 2007, TCADP wrote a letter to Governor Charlie Crist identifying problems with the lethal injection procedure and the work of the Lethal Injection Commission. As of October 2007, we have still not received any reply from the Governor’s office. The letter is reprinted below:
May 16, 2007
Dear Governor Crist:
Tallahassee Citizens Against the Death Penalty have been carefully observing the hard work done by the Lethal Injection Commission and the Florida Department of Corrections regarding changes to the lethal injection process. As you can see from the name of our organization, we are opposed to capital punishment. If however, people are to be killed by the State of Florida, the procedures must be as transparent and humane as possible.
While it is clear that Secretary McDonough has taken this responsibility very seriously, we respectfully disagree with one of the major conclusions of the DOC Task Force: the continuation of the thirty-year-old “cocktail” combination of drugs. Numerous studies have been done by both medical and legal professionals who have concluded that these chemicals are not the most humane available. In fact, Dr. Jay Chapman, the former chief medical examiner who created the formula in 1977, has said, “It may be time to change it. There are many problems that can arise…given the concerns that people are raising with the protocol it should be re-examined.” Last month several physicians published a study titled, “Lethal Injection for Execution: Chemical Asphyxiation?” The majority of the doctors who wrote the article are from the University of Miami Medical School. In their conclusion they wrote, “…our findings suggest that current lethal injection protocols may not reliably effect death through the mechanisms intended, indicating a failure of design and implementation. If thiopental and potassium chloride fail to cause anesthesia and cardiac arrest, potentially aware inmates could have died through pancuronium-induced asphyxiation. Thus the conventional view of lethal injection leading to an invariably peaceful and painless death is questionable.”  The doctors focused on what is believed to be a key problem: that inmates are given a uniform amount of anesthesia regardless of their body weight or other factors, such as their tolerance for barbiturates. As I’m sure your father, a physician, will tell you, anesthesia must be carefully measured based upon a person’s size and weight. However, the Florida protocol calls for an exact dosage no matter whether the prisoner is 5’ 6” and weighs 150 pounds or he is 6’2” and weighs 220 pounds. Common sense will tell you that this is just a disaster waiting to happen. Again.
The State of Florida and you as our Governor face a dilemma – how to kill a person using a quasi-medical procedure when medical personnel are ethically precluded from participating. As you know, the American Medical Association has distanced itself from this process because of its code of ethics.The members of TCADP ask why the Department of Corrections would ignore the specific request by the Lethal Injection Commission to explore “more recently developed” chemicals for use in executions. The DOC report states (p. 9) that the “…Department believes that the three substances used are appropriate for the lethal injection process.” Governor Crist, it is evident from a review of the most current studies conducted by experts in this field that the Department of Corrections is wrong about this. We have attached the medical journal article referred to in our letter and also an exhaustive study recently published by Deborah W. Denno, Professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law. Professor Denno is one of the nation’s leading experts on methods of execution.
Please do not rush to begin executions again. The possibility for error is far too great. We would like to reiterate that our organization is strongly opposed to capital punishment in any form. We are confident that the “people’s Governor” will not want to be part of any process that involves a torturous death for one of Florida’s citizens.
Sheila MeehanChair, TCADP
cc: Secretary James McDonough, Dept. of Corrections
Patrick M. J. Hutton, M.D., President, Florida Medical Association
Cecil B. Wilson, M.D., Chair, American Medical Association
 “Lethal Injection creator: Maybe It’s time to change formula, Cohen, Elizabeth, CNN Health, http://www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/05/07/lethal.injection/index.html?eref=rss_health.
© Tallahassee Citizens Against the Death Penalty 2005
Site Designed by The Artomaton, LLC