Panel Says Fla. Executioners Need More Training

Saturday, February 24th 2007, 9:19 pm
By: News On 6

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ Death row inmates' consciousness should be monitored throughout executions and those administering lethal injections need additional training, according to a panel's preliminary recommendations released Saturday.

The 11-member panel was assembled to review the state's death penalty procedures after a botched execution in December took twice as long as normal and required a rare second dose of deadly chemicals. Some witnesses said convicted killer Angel Nieves Diaz appeared to be in pain, and then-Gov. Jeb Bush suspended all executions.

Diaz's executioner testified that he hadn't received training in seven years, which most panelists acknowledged wasn't adequate.

But not all members of the commission agreed with the preliminary recommendations.

Dr. David Varlotta, an anesthesiologist, said executioners require advanced medical training, but an individual with such qualifications would be breaching their own profession's ethical code.

``The state doesn't require teachers and lawyers to perform tasks that are unethical,'' he said.

But Rodney Doss, director of victim services for the state Attorney General's Office, countered: ``Individuals who served as executioners when Florida had the electric chair as a means of executions didn't necessarily have to be electricians.''

The panel also recommended placing all accountability with the warden, who must be identified as the ultimate authority in the execution process.

Panel members will meet again Sunday to construct a first draft, which will be submitted to members for a vote next week. The panel's report is due to be sent to Gov. Charlie Crist by March 1.