Demonstration in the United States against the death penalty – Ansa
A killer sentenced to death in Alabama suffered “three hours of pain and suffering” in what may be “the longest execution ever,” according to NGO Reprieve, a human rights group that sponsored an independent autopsy. Joe Nathan James Jr., 50, was fatally injected on July 28 despite the desperate objections of the victim’s family, who were fighting for his life.
The injection was scheduled for 6:00 p.m. but was postponed to 9:04 p.m. and he was not pronounced dead until 9:27 p.m. Prison Commissioner John Hamm insisted that “nothing out of the ordinary” caused the delay and dismissed reporter speculation that the prisoner had been sedated before the execution. However, the suspicion led to an independent autopsy which, according to Atlantic, showed that “a terrible thing was done to James while he was tied to a gurney behind closed doors”. Magazine reporter Elizabeth Bruenig reported that “the hands and wrists (of the convicts) were punctured with needles in all places that could be bent or flexed”.
Medical experts contacted by the newspaper, also based on photos of the body, concluded that the team in charge of the injection was “unqualified” and probably acted with “gross incompetence”. Some of the injuries also suggest that he was sedated before the final execution and that his “was more compatible with trauma … that happened during a fight.”
“The execution of Joe Nathan James Jr. took longer than any other injection in documented US history and may be the longest by any method,” the NGO said. “Exposing someone to up to three hours of pain and suffering is the definition of cruel and unusual punishment,” he added.
The autopsy revealed that “the execution began ad hoc hours before media witnesses were allowed into the room” when they were “locked in a prison van without their phones.” James “underwent essentially two executions: a harrowing procedure behind closed doors and then a performance for witnesses,” Reprieve alleges.
The NGO recalled that in 2018, Alabama called off the execution of Doyle Lee Hamm after staff had trouble finding the appropriate vein for the injection and punctured his limbs and groin with the needle at least 11 times when he was tried in vain to find the right spot. Hamm finally died of cancer last year.