April 27, 2006
A Virginia inmate is scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection tonight, but recent studies show that the procedure might not be humane.
The U.S. Supreme Court turned down Dexter Lee Vinson's petition to stop his execution. At 9 p.m. Vinson is expected to be executed by lethal injection for the killing of his former girlfriend in 1997.
Those who oppose this execution said it is cruel and unusual punishment and new studies are showing that might be true.
The Supreme Court is looking into studies that show if the injection, which is a three drug combination, is administered improperly, the inmate suffers excruciating pain. This would violate the 8th Amendment.
Other death row inmates in similar cases have recently won temporary stays of executions because of the lethal injection challenges. This is what Vinson's supporters are hoping for.
"Why are you rushing ahead when in fact these issues are being looked at by the U.S. Supreme Court and Virginia cases are being studied by the U.S. Supreme Court?" said Jack Payden-Travers, of Alternatives to Death Penalty.
Only the U.S. Supreme Court or Governor Tim Kaine can steps in to stop the execution. The Supreme Court turned down Vinson's petition, but his lawyers have asked the governor to reduce his sentence to life in prison.
Kaine is not expected to grant Vinson clemency since, before he was elected, he was quoted saying even though he is Catholic he will "carry out death sentences handed down by Virginia juries because that's the law."
Four more Virginia inmates are expected to be executed by the end of summer.