Activists, Lawyers, Family Call for Stay in Robert Henry’s Execution Citing Inhumane Procedure and Unconstitutional Methods
by Save Robert Henry
For Immediate Release Mach 3, 2014
For more information Contact the Save Robert Henry Campaign:
Phone: (561) 325-9317
DEERFIELD BEACH, FL – A group of South Florida lawyers is joining the chorus of Robert Henry’s family and friends to call on Governor Scott to stop the execution scheduled for March 20, 2014. Citing to inhumane and unconstitutional procedures, PBACDL, the Palm Beach Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, denounces FL’s current lethal injection process as cruel and unusual punishment. Robert was sentenced to death in Broward County for the 1988 deaths of Janet Cox Thermidor and Phyllis Harris. Since Robert has been on death row, he has served as a counselor and mentor to those struggling with addiction issues. Mr. Henry knows well the horrific toll of untreated addiction – his crack-cocaine addiction led to his condemnation to death, and the death of Ms. Harris and Ms. Thermidor.
The campaign launched its efforts to stop Robert’s execution on February 24, 2014. Since that date, over 1,500 people have signed the online petition calling on Governor Scott to stop the execution.
“If Henry’s execution is carried out, he will suffer excruciating pain,” said campaign spokesperson Talitha Hazelton. “This is state-sanctioned torture. Injecting a cruel cocktail into Mr. Henry is in violation of the U.S. Constitution and makes a mockery of our democratic system of justice. We cannot allow sadistic new protocols to trump Floridians’ commitment to decency and humane treatment of our fellow citizens.”
In September of 2013, Florida changed its protocol for lethal injections. Previously, the State utilized barbiturates in step one of its three-step injection process, which put inmates in a coma-like state prior to administering the second, paralyzing drug. The sources for barbiturates have been running dry, however, because of ethical concerns in the medical profession and unwanted publicity for pharmaceutical companies. Companies inside the U.S. are refusing to sell to state governments, and most major manufacturers outside the U.S. are forbidden by law to export these drugs for executions in the states.
As a quick fix to the drug shortage, Florida has changed the way it does executions: the lethal cocktail now calls for Midazolam, a drug the FDA has not approved for lethal injections. Midazolam is in a class of drugs normally used to treat anxiety, such as Xanax. It is not a substitute for anesthesia and is inadequate to produce the deep, coma-like unconsciousness required before the administration of the second, paralyzing drug which shuts down the body’s functions. In fact, no studies exist at all to show the effects of Florida’s megadose of this drug. As a result, lead anesthesiologists report that Midazolam’s shoddy sedative properties can result in “a sensation akin to being buried alive” for the person being executed.
The suppliers of Midazolam have asked the Florida Department of Corrections to STOP its use of this drug for executions, noting the drug is not intended for that purpose.
For more information on Robert’s case, follow his Twitter campaign @SaveRobertHenry, visit him on the web at: https://nocruelcocktail.wordpress.com/ or contact the campaign at NoCruelCocktail@gmail.com or (561) 325-9317.