Bipartisan Group Recommends Changes in Execution Procedures

May 7, 2014

Credit Georgia Department of Corrections

A report released today by a bipartisan group of criminal justice experts recommends sweeping changes in how death penalty cases are tried and appealed in this country and how states execute prisoners.

Some of the recommendations run counter to Georgia’s execution procedures.

  The Constitution Project report recommends 39 different changes in the process for death penalty cases.

It recommends specific techniques for better case investigation such as videotaping all interrogations and using best practices in eyewitness investigation.

At the trial and appellate levels, the report calls for the courts to allow appeals on the merits of the cases not hampered by procedural issues, and it recommends that attorneys handling death penalty cases meet a certain standard of qualification.

The recommendations also include more transparency in the entire execution process and that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approve all execution drugs for use in humans.

According to Megan McCracken, an attorney who specializes specializing in lethal injection issues and helped develop the report, “It is crucial to know what is in the syringe at the time of the execution, and you simply cannot know whether it will work as intended unless it has FDA approval.”

The state of Georgia currently classifies information about the execution drugs it uses as a state secret.

A challenge to the secrecy law is currently before the Supreme Court of Georgia in a case brought by death row inmate Warren Lee Hill, Jr.

To view the complete reports, visit The Constitution Project's website.