Judge Rules Pain-free Executions Aren’t Protected by the Constitution

Judge Rules Pain-free Executions Aren't Protected by the Constitution

“Painless” Executions No More – Judge Rules Against Death Row Inmate’s Request

(TargetLiberty.org) – An Arizona death row inmate asked for a delay in his execution date and had been turned down. The 66-year-old convicted killer said his medical condition meant that strapping him to a gurney would cause him pain. Now a judge has ruled that a “pain-free” execution is too much to expect, effectively ruling a lack of constitutional basis for such a request.

On June 5, the US District Court for Arizona heard a case brought by Frank Atwood, who was sentenced to death in 1987, but denies the charge of rape and murder of 8-year-old Vicki Lynne Hoskinson. Atwood is suffering from a degenerative spine disease that’s confined him to a wheelchair. He says being strapped to a gurney in advance of a lethal injection will cause pain — and he claims that violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishments.

Judge Michael Liburdi disagreed. Rejecting Atwood’s request, he said the state would provide Atwood with a medical wedge to take the pressure off his back during the execution, and make other adjustments to minimize his pain. The judge also said the US Constitution “does not require a pain-free execution.” The prohibition on cruel and unusual punishments was aimed at torture and barbaric medieval execution methods; it prohibits excessive or unnecessary pain, but Judge Liburdi made clear it doesn’t prohibit all pain — and Atwood’s execution will go ahead on Wednesday.

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