John Spenkelink was not physically abused in the days just before his execution last May 25, but he was denied many of the rights provided by law and regulations for condemned men.
Those are the basic findings of a 97-page report delivered today by a two-man investigating team appointed by Florida Gov. Robert Graham. The report was sharply critical of superintendent David Brierton as the man largely responsible for the denial of Spenkelink's rights at the Florida state prison at Raiford.
Graham has ordered Corrections Secretary Louie Wainwright to respond in writing to the report by Oct. 15.
Brierton, meanwhile, was promoted this week to the job of inspector general of the prison system.
The investigating committee consisted of Graham's inspector general, Dick Williams, and Miami attorney Irwin J. Block, an outspoken opponent of the death penalty.
The investigation was precipitated by a letter from an anonymous death row inmate to a student newspaper in Tallahassee, the Florida Flambeau. The inmate cited reports from other inmates and prison guards that Spenkelink was wrestled to the floor by guards who tried to stuff "gobs of cotton" into his rectum just before he was led to the execution chamber.
The report said there was no evidence this had happened but cited a list of other violations and irregular practices. It found that, among other things:
Spenkelink was denied the right to make a final statement.
He was refused any opportunity to talk to the press.
His mother and other female visitors were subjected to vaginal and rectal body searches before they could visit.
He was denied visits by a minister of his choice until his lawyers threatened to hold a news conference.
He was not allowed to inventory or sign an inventory of his personal property.
His address book, with some personal notes, was confiscated and is still missing.
The legally required autopsy was not performed.
Official witnesses were not allowed to see him brought into the execution chamber.
The committee rejected as untrue a charge that Spenkelink was gagged with adhesive tape before being led to the execution chamber.It cited the report of a witness.
The investigators also rejected reports that Spenkelink fought with guards who were trying to prepare him for execution by shaving his head and leg, or that his body was stripped, dumped into a shower stall and scrubbed before being turned over to an undertaker.