The Florida Supreme Court has halted the execution of a convicted murderer originally scheduled for tomorrow amid questions over whether or not the use of Florida’s lethal injection drugs amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.
The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution explicitly prohibits the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment, meaning that if the use of such lethal drugs meets the standard of cruel and unusual punishment, using them as a method of execution would be unconstitutional.
Our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers know that the issue of lethal drug constitutionality is one that has made headlines across the country, most noticeably in recent months, after a series of botched executions have caused unimaginable suffering.
The stay of execution for Jerry William Correll (convicted of stabbing to death his ex-wife, their daughter and two of his in-laws), initially scheduled for 6 PM tomorrow, was ordered by the highest court in the Sunshine State, pending a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a legal case revolving around the constitutionality of the use of a similar lethal injection drug in Oklahoma. The inmate whose life was thus spared (for now) by the order has been on Florida’s death row since 1986.
As our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers know, major issue in the discussion of capital punishment, and particularly how it is carried out, has to do with justice vs. revenge. The criminal “justice” system exists to carry-out justice — to ensure that it is served. That said, there is a difference between justice and revenge. The notion of “a tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye” is not the basis upon which our criminal justice system is founded. If you commit armed robbery, a court would never condemn you to be the victim of an armed robbery, despite the fact that such a punishment might seem “equal” to the offense you’ve committed.
Punishments are handed out in many different ways and for different reasons, among them as rehabilitative tools. Then there is the death penalty, reserved for individuals who have allegedly committed crimes so heinous that they have forfeited their right to live (or so proponents of the death penalty would argue). Taking a convict’s life is one thing — and it’s a debatable thing — but putting them through a torturous experience, such as the one that arises with the faulty injection of lethal drugs is quite another.
Some people might argue that lethal injections are the most humane way to end a human’s life. While it’s true that we no longer employ methods of execution such as the guillotine, the electric chair and hangings, it’s easy for members of the public to opine on the humanity of a lethal injection when they haven’t experienced one — or watched one — first hand. During a recent botched execution by way of lethal injection, the violent convulsions of the inmate became so unbearable that authorities had to close the window through which the family was able to watch their loved one be put to death.
If you have any questions about Florida’s death penalty laws, or any other criminal defense issue, please contact our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert by calling 1-888-5-DEFEND (1-888-533-3363). We look forward to assisting you.