The Washington Post

Attorneys allege Virginia not following proper procedures during executions

A pair of defense attorneys are alleging Virginia is not following proper procedures for executions in violation of a handful of state laws.

The attorneys claim unlicensed personnel are administering anaesthesia to convicts before lethal injection and that inmates are not being checked to ensure they are properly anaesthetized before being executed. The lawyers also allege the condemned have been given recalled and improper sedatives before executions.

The allegations are contained in a writ filed in Richmond Circuit Court Tuesday that asks a judge to halt the practices. The attorneys are not representing specific clients, but have previously represented inmates on death row.

The attorneys said they are basing their claims on documentation from freedom of information requests.

“Because the people who are administering anaesthesia before executions are not licensed, there’s a high level of risk of pain and agony in the person they are anesthetizing, since the lethal injection drugs are known to cause serious agony,” said Meghan Shapiro, one of the attorneys.

Shapiro said there is no evidence that any Virginia death row inmates were conscious during an execution.

A Virginia Department of Corrections spokesman declined to comment on the filing, saying the agency does not speak about pending litigation.

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