Saturday, April 03, 2004

Changing the dose in Nebraska...


Neb. Changes Electrocution Procedure

By KEVIN O'HANLON, Associated Press Writer

LINCOLN, Neb. - Nebraska has changed the way it uses the electric chair to head off legal challenges asserting that the procedure is cruel and unusual.

Instead of using four jolts of electricity, prison officials will now administer a single dose 15 seconds long, Department of Corrections spokesman Steve King said Thursday.

The change was implemented March 15 in anticipation of court arguments later this month involving three men convicted in the slayings of five people inside a Norfolk bank in 2002. The inmates believe the chair amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

Lawmakers have been debating whether to eliminate the chair and use only lethal injection. Nebraska is the only state with electrocution as its sole means of execution.

The state adopted the four-jolts procedure after problems marred several executions in Florida, including one in 1990 in which flames shot out of an inmate's head.

But some experts have said the uninterrupted current of electricity has its risks, including problems like fires and severe burning of the prisoner.

All three people put to death in Nebraska since executions were resumed in 1994 were given multiple jolts of electricity.