U.S. District Court Judge Henry Wingate ruled that the Mississippi Department of Corrections cannot use the sedatives pentobarbital and midazolam in executions. Attorney Jim Craig is with the MacArthur Center for Justice in New Orleans. He says logs from six executions in 2012, show that the two lethal injections were given too soon. Mississippi uses a three step process. First a sedation drug is injected that puts the inmate in a coma-like state, then Craig says a second injection paralyzes the body.
"So the prisoner cannot feel that his lungs are not moving, that he is suffocating to death and that then he's being injected with a third drug that causes a heart attack, and just before it does so, causes chemical burning from the inside," said Craig.
Craig believes closer monitoring is needed to ensure the inmate is in a deep coma. He says torture violates inmates' eighth amendment rights. He's not questioning the death sentence, but the way it's administered. State Senator Sampson Jackson chairs the Corrections Committee. He says Mississippi hasn't had a problem.
"The U.S. Supreme Court just ruled in Oklahoma that those drugs are suitable for execution. It's the same drugs that Mississippi uses," said Jackson.
Jim Craig says Oklahoma has a team that monitors the execution to ensure the inmate is completely unconscious before proceeding. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said in a statement his office feels strongly that the district court misapplied the law and they will appeal the decision.