For the first time in nine years, inmates could be executed by lethal injection under new legislation passed by the North Carolina State House of Representatives on April 29.
The bill, which passed with a vote of 84-33, will allow executions to be conducted without a doctor present. Substituting for the doctor would be nurses, physician assistants and emergency personnel. The state has not executed any inmates since 2006, due to the state's medical board threatening to punish doctors who participate in a prisoner's death, the Huffington Post reports.
Also, the law will protect the company who manufactures the lethal drugs and the workers who administer the drug, the News & Observer notes.
“This language is to protect the doctor or the pharmacist from people going there and harassing them,” said Republican Rep. Leo Daughtry, who sponsored the legislation.
The protection provision was added at the last minute and was largely opposed by Democrats. Dissenters were concerned that the anonymity of the sources would make it more difficult to know how effective the drugs were.
“It is stunning that we are doing this tonight,” said Democratic Rep. Rick Glazier. He also warned about the many lawsuits that the state could face after the implementation of this legislation.
“If this passes, they are certainly delaying future executions in this state for a very long time,” he continued.
Although the state has not executed anyone since 2006, 149 inmates currently remain on death row, according to the state Department of Public Safety. Other politicians have voiced opposition to the legislation.
“It should horrify us as a state that we might execute someone who is innocent,” Democratic Rep. Pricey Harrison said.
While the legislation has passed the House, the State Senate still has to cast their votes. While the Senate leader supports capital punishment, it is unclear if the legislative body will vote with the House in the affirmative. North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, a Republican, also has to approve the measure, although he has not said if he will.
Photo Credit: The Daily Beast, scientificamerican.com