Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Florida Lethal Injection Methods Revised

Florida State death row prisoner Ian Lightbourne challenged the State's lethal injection procedures after the improper implementation of an execution. Revisions were made to the methods used and the petition was dismissed.

The duration of the "botched" execution of Angel Diaz in 2006 was 34 minutes, the longest in Florida history. The first of a three chemical injection process, sodium pentothal, was ineffective because the needle protruded through the entire vein preventing the chemical's release into Diaz's bloodstream. The first injection is used to impede painful effects of the subsequent injections. A witness claimed that Diaz was moving, squinting, breathing deeply and clenching his jaw several minutes after the first injection. Lightbourne challenged the method of the injections. His prior petition challenging Florida's lethal injection statutes and procedures was combined for efficiency.

Then Governor Jeb Bush stayed all executions, ordering a commission to "review the method in which lethal injection procedures are administered" by the Department of Corrections (DOC) and to "make findings and recommendations" for revision. It was determined that the Warden would oversee the procedure to ensure effectiveness of the first injection prior to proceeding, cameras were installed for monitoring, and special training was ordered. Lightbourne claimed that the changes were inadequate.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled that no Eighth Amendment violation existed. The court held that "more than a negligible risk" of subjection to "cruel and unusual punishment" was not proven because it was not determinable whether Diaz suffered pain and that preventative steps were subsequently taken. The court further held that it would not "micro manage" the DOC's executive branch approved procedures. See:Lightbourne v. McCollum, 969 So. 2d 326 (Fla. 2007), cert. denied, 128 S.Ct. 2485 (2008).

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login