Tuesday, April 03, 2007

 

An Open Process?

When the Governor issued the 90 day moratorium in February, he stated that the current protocols for executions in the state of Tennessee were "sloppy" and needed to be revised. Unfortunately, the revision process to this point has occurred behind closed doors within the Department of Corrections, without vital input from the public. Even Florida's pro-death penalty Governor, Jeb Bush, recognized the importance of an open process in scrutinizing execution protocols and set up a public commission to do the work in Florida, a commission which held at least five hearings open to the public.

However, in today's Tennessean, an article by Shelia Burke, announces that an open, public hearing will be held on Thursday at 3:00 p.m. in the multimedia room of the Tennessee Snodgrass Tower, 312 8th Avenue North. Doctors and lawyers representing inmates on death row will be among those invited to speak.

This meeting is an important one for those of us who believe that the execution protocols in Tennessee are inhumane and that the Governor's current moratorium on executions should be extended past the May 2 deadline. 90 days is not enough time to address all the problems with the execution protocols, particularly considering major issues such as the appropriate dosages of the three chemicals used in the lethal injection process are currently not even written down. However, we should not stop with the execution protocols, but instead, continue the moratorium in order for a full study of the entire death penalty system to be conducted. If such problems exist in the protocols, how much greater must the problems be system wide?

If you are able to attend this meeting, I hope that you will. We need for officials to understand that people care about this issue. We need them to understand why the process must be open. We need them to allow enough time for a thorough examination of the protocols to occur. It is a matter of life and death. I hope to see you on Thursday.
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