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Anti-Death Penalty Group Releases Report On Botched Executions

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RALEIGH, N.C. — An anti-death penalty group is targeting states like North Carolina in the rising debate over lethal injection.

The New York-based nonprofit

Human Rights Watch

released a study Monday citing several executions that they claim went wrong and possibly caused painful deaths, including three in North Carolina.

  • Read The Report:

    So Long as They Die: Lethal Injections in the United States

    The group quotes defense lawyers who witnessed the deaths of North Carolina death-row inmates Willie Fisher, Eddie Hartman and John Daniels.

    Attorney Kim Stevens writes that Daniels sat up gagging and choking in apparent pain. Yet, media accounts of the same execution do not come close to her graphic description.

    "The account that she gave is different from mine," said The Associated Press Correspondent Estes Thompson, who also watched Daniels die. "I believe Daniels looked into the chamber and may have coughed, and then he put his head back down and didn't move again."

    Movement or not, Human Rights Watch argues the paralytic drug used in executions can disguise pain.

    When North Carolina executes convicted killers, the Department of Correction claims it injects 10 times the amount of anesthesia used in a typical surgery. Critics still argue that is not enough.

    "The way people in the United States execute human beings would not pass muster for euthanasia of animals," said Jamie Fellner, with Human Righs Watch.

    North Carolina recently added a machine to monitor consciousness to comply with a judge's order.

    Other death row cases are still pending. Human Rights Watch's motive is not hidden. It wants the death penalty abolished.

    This issue, however, will keep playing out in court.

    North Carolina has executed three inmates so far this year. Another execution is scheduled in May. Texas is the only other state that has carried out more executions -- seven.

    As for debate over the cost, prison costs about $25,000 a year per inmate. Over a 40-year period, the state could spend $1 million housing an inmate. Studies show it costs about $2 million for an execution -- the majority of that is spent in court appeals.


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