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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 September 2007, 09:11 GMT 10:11 UK
Tennessee bans lethal injection
File photograph of a death penalty chamber in the US
Concerns over lethal injections have halted many executions
A judge in Tennessee has ruled the state's method of executing prisoners by lethal injection is illegal because it is a cruel and unusual punishment.

Federal judge Aleta Trauger said inmates were not properly anesthetised before the injection was administered.

This presented a "substantial risk of unnecessary pain" to inmates and violated their constitutional rights.

Tennessee is among 11 states in which executions have been postponed or blocked over concerns about injections.

STATES WHERE EXECUTIONS HAVE BEEN BLOCKED OR POSTPONED
Florida
Missouri
Maryland
California
Ohio
Delaware
Tennessee
Texas
Arkansas
South Dakota
North Carolina
Source: Death Penalty Information Centre

Judge Trauger was presiding over the case of Edward Jerome Harbison, due to be executed next week for murdering a woman in 1983.

Tennessee reviewed its lethal injection procedures in April, but the judge said by failing to safeguard prisoners against pain, the new protocol could "result in a terrifying, excruciating death".

Harbison could be legally executed once the state adopted a valid method of execution, she said.

The state attorney's office is said to be considering whether to appeal against the ruling.

Under review

Lethal injection is the main method of judicial execution in the US.

Florida suspended all lethal injections following the botched execution of Angel Nieves Dias.

An autopsy showed the death row inmate took close to 35 minutes to die, apparently in great pain, after the first injections were administered wrongly.

New protocols have been issued, and the state's governor has since signed a death warrant for a death row prisoner.

The governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, also ordered a complete review of the state's death penalty programme following a court ruling there.


SEE ALSO
Florida governor halts executions
16 Dec 06 |  Americas
Anti-injection man executed in US
21 Sep 06 |  Americas
US lethal injection appeal agreed
12 Jun 06 |  Americas
Struggle to execute US murderer
03 May 06 |  Americas
New rules for US lethal injection
15 Feb 06 |  Americas
Supreme Court halts US execution
25 Jan 06 |  Americas

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