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South Dakota governor blocks execution pending new lethal injection law

[JURIST] South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds [official website] on Tuesday ordered a last minute reprieve [press release] for death row inmate Elijah Page [SD AGO backgrounder], calling the 1984 state lethal injection law [text] outdated and expressing concern that state officials slated to perform the execution were at risk of violating the state statute. The South Dakota statute requires a combination of two drugs for lethal injection, but prison officials planned to follow several other states and use a three-drug combination for Page's execution. Rounds granted the execution reprieve for Page until July 1, 2007, to allow time for the state legislature to hammer out new lethal injection protocols.

Concerned that lethal injection causes excessive pain for the inmate, several states have recently questioned the standard three-drug lethal injection cocktail. Missouri is working on new lethal injection protocols [JURIST report] under the guidance of US District Judge Fernando Gaitan to ensure that Missouri's lethal injection method does not cause unconstitutional pain and suffering, while Ohio recently executed its first inmate under revised lethal injection protocols [JURIST report]. Similarly, a federal judge in California in February ordered the state to implement new lethal injection procedures [JURIST report] that do not cause excessive pain. South Dakota has not executed a death row inmate since 1947. AP has more.

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