Friday, July 28, 2006

Nebraska and the Electric Chair - Carey Dean Moore

Nebraska is the only remaining state in the United States that offers the electric chair as its only form of execution. Recently, Carey Dean Moore, a Nebraska death row inmate challenged the use of the electric chair as cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution. Today, the Nebraska Supreme Court found that use of the electric chair in executions is NOT cruel and unusual punishment.

It flabbergasts me that anyone could find that electrocution is not cruel and unusual punishment. The risks involved in electrocution are tremendous. There are reports of inmates burning alive from the electrocution due to misapplication and of executions requiring higher and higher blasts of electricity to finally kill the execute (which of course means the inmate was alive throughout earlier attempts to kill him or her with high voltage electricity). This risks are enormous.

I lived in Nebraska for three years and was keenly aware that Nebraska was one of the few states (and then the only state) still using the electric chair as its exclusive option for execution. Today's ruling makes me tremendously sad.

That said, the United States Supreme Court's ruling in June that inmates can protest the combination of chemicals used in lethal injection as cruel and unusual also paves the way for a possible acceptance of certiorari for Carey Dean Moore. So, perhaps there is some hope for change.

For more information, I attach links to an AP article posted on today regarding the Nebraska ruling and a June 18, 2006 opinion piece from the San Francisco Chronicle following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on lethal injection (written by Tom McNichol).

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