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California review of lethal injection reveals slip in execution of Crips co-founder

[JURIST] A California senior assistant attorney general testified Tuesday that the state of California failed to use a backup IV line during the execution of Crips gang co-founder and convicted murderer Stanley Tookie Williams [advocacy website] which unnecessarily complicated his execution. The testimony was gathered during a four-day federal court hearing [San Francisco Chronicle report] on whether lethal injection in California constitutes cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment [text] by posing a significant risk of unnecessary and severe pain for the condemned inmate. The backup line helps ensure a steady flow of drugs causing rapid death with minimal suffering.

Though the Tookie Williams execution [JURIST news archive] was not compromised by the mistake, other executions have gained national attention for failing to end the life of the condemned immediately. The botched Ohio execution of Joseph Clark [CantonRep report, registration required], where the execution was delayed for an hour-and-a-half when staff struggled to find a vein to administer the lethal injection cocktail, prompted Ohio's prison director to recommend changes to lethal injection policies [JURIST report]. Earlier this month, A federal judge ordered the state of Missouri [JURIST report] to submit new protocols for carrying out lethal injections and refused to authorize executions until revisions to state policy are approved. The Washington Post has more.

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