Last night, the Senate passed House Bill 774 “Restoring Proper Justice Act,” legislation aimed at making secret all aspects of the way in which our state executes individuals. NC Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty opposes the bill. “While some people hope this legislation will jump start executions, this bill will actually delay executions for years, creating more lawsuits and costing the state more money,” said Ballard Everett, Coordinator of the Organization.
H774 eliminates the requirement that a physician be present at executions and expands the definition of “medical professional” that can participate in executions. However, major medical associations, including the American Medical Association, the American Nurses’ Association, the American Pharmacist Association and National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians have issued statements prohibiting members’ participation in state executions. Because of the potential consequences to their reputation or professional license, it is unlikely any medical professionals will want to assist with the executions of prisoners, particularly when so many recent executions in other states have been badly botched.
H774 also eliminates transparency and access to public records regarding the way our state will conduct executions, including the drugs being used and how they are procured. “The NC Association of Broadcasters and NC Press Association have already warned that closing off public records in this way raises serious First Amendment problems,” said Everett.
According to Tim Nelson, lobbyist for the North Carolina Press Association and North Carolina Association of Broadcasters, the Associations “oppose H774 to the extent that it would create additional exceptions to the Public Records Act and keep secret certain records and information that have historically been—and should remain—the property of the people.”
“At a time when it’s become apparent that we are putting innocent men on death row, and wasting millions of taxpayer dollars in the process, the legislature should be seriously considering whether North Carolina needs the death penalty at all, not tinkering with an already-broken process.”