The nation's top prosecutor told reporters he believes all executions should stop in the United States until questions about new lethal injection drugs are resolved.
United States Attorney General Eric Holder said at a press luncheon Tuesday that a moratorium on executions would be appropriate until the United States Supreme Court decides a case challenging Oklahoma's lethal injection protocol.
The Court agreed on January 23 to hear the Oklahoma case, Glossip v. Gross, to address whether the state's three-drug protocol violates the Constitution's guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment. The case focuses on the sedative midazolam, which was used in a badly botched execution in Oklahoma last April. The Court stayed the executions of the three Oklahoma men involved in the case.
Florida also uses midazolam and this week the Florida Supreme Court stayed the execution of Jerry Correll until after the Court issues its decision in Glossip.
The State of Alabama recently announced it would change its protocol to include the use of midazolam. This week, a federal court stayed the execution of Tommy Arthur, who is challenging the state's lethal injection protocol in a federal lawsuit.
In addition to recommending that all executions be put on hold while the Court considers Glossip, Attorney General Holder expressed broader concerns about executing the innocent. "Our system of justice is the best in the world," he said. "But there's always the possibility that mistakes will be made...There is no ability to correct a mistake where somebody has, in fact, been executed. And that is from my perspective the ultimate nightmare.”