Kentucky changing its execution method

June 1, 2012 Source :

Executions in Kentucky could resume later this year after a move Thursday by the state’s Justice Cabinet. The death penalty has been on hold for nearly two years because of questions in part over the injection method used to execute inmates.

Dennis Briscoe has waited a long time for justice since Ralph Baze murdered his father and uncle. The convicted killer has lived on death row for nearly two decades. He’s one of several inmates who has exhausted his appeals and challenged the three-drug injection method as cruel and unusual punishment.

Claims that Kentucky’s three-drug cocktail violates the Eighth Amendment are not new. In 2007 the United States Supreme Court ruled the method constitutional. However that was before other states began using a single-drug system some consider more humane because of problems with the ingredients in the three-drug cocktail.

Debate over the competing methods was a critical factor that led a Franklin Circuit judge to temporarily halt executions across the state. Last month that judge ordered the Department of Corrections to consider a change. Now state officials say they will propose a new system by the end of July. “I’m glad to see a proactive move by the Department of Corrections in order to help fix this situation we have with the death penalty currently,” Briscoe said.

If that new system proposed allows for a single-drug execution, the judge in the case has ruled that any claims of cruel and unusual punishment by inmates will be dismissed. “I’m optimistic now that there’s going to be this recent move, this recent change,” Briscoe said, “However, I’m cautious as well because there could be a whole nother line of arguments.”

Today’s developments could lead to a new system as early as late summer.

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