Last night (July 20), Georgia was scheduled to execute Andrew Grant DeYoung, but postponed the execution 24 hours over questions that the state’s new three-drug cocktail inflicts unconstitutional levels of pain. If DeYoung is executed tonight, he will become the second death row inmate to be killed by Georgia with their new lethal injection protocol. Last month, Roy Blankenship was the guinea pig for this new procedure, and his death did not go as planned.
Georgia was forced to amend its execution procedure after its supply of sodium thiopental was surrendered to the DEA amid an investigation into that drug’s questionable origins abroad. Georgia then switched from sodium thiopental to pentobarbital, a drug whose Danish manufacturer explicitly opposes its use in executions.
Due to the unnecessary suffering apparent in Blankenship’s execution, a Georgia superior court judge ordered that DeYoung’s execution be videotaped for further private examination by the court. This would be the first such recording since a California execution in 1992. Georgia argued that the videotaping should not be permitted, but the Georgia Supreme Court denied the state’s attempt to prevent the recording.
Brian Kammer, an attorney involved in both Blankenship and DeYoung’s cases, questioned the motives of the prison officials. “At this point, we need an objective recording to eliminate any dispute as to what transpires in the next lethal injection…If there’s nothing to hide, then the Department of Corrections should want to allow scrutiny and a recording of its practices.”
A more basic question might be, if the risk of inflicting cruel and unusual punishment is enough to warrant a videotape, why are the courts allowing the execution to occur at all?