With less than a week to go before Paul Ezra Rhoades is scheduled to die by lethal injection at the Idaho State Maximum Security Institute, a federal judge is expected to rule on Monday whether he might postpone the execution.
Attorneys for Rhoades went before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald E. Bush Thursday to ask for the stay because of their concerns over Idaho's lethal injection protocol. The current procedure calls for a condemned prisoner to be given an anesthetic drug first, knocking him unconscious. Then, the execution team would administer a paralytic agent, preventing the condemned from moving or even drawing breath. Finally, an injection of potassium chloride stops the heart.
Officials with the Idaho Attorney General's Office argue that a federal court ruling in Kentucky has already considered the protocol and found that the method was not cruel and unusual punishment.
Additionally, officials with the Idaho Department of Correction have indicated that members of the execution and medical teams all have at least one year of experience inserting IVs, checking for consciousness and administering medications.
Bush told the courtroom yesterday that he had "to consider the state's interest in seeing its judgment enforced." But he also added that Idaho had "a state correction system that to some degree looks like it's playing catch-up."
In the current edition of BW, we examine the details of the planned execution, including the make-up of the execution and medical teams, and the hour-to-hour and minute-to-minute procedure leading up to scheduled death-by-injection.