Unedited news item published in The Winston Salem Journal, North Carolina, USA on June 5, 1998
THE WINSTON SALEM JOURNAL, JUNE 5, 1998
House Panel approves bill to eliminate gas executions
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
RALEIGH -- Condemned inmates could no longer choose cyanide gas as an execution method under a bill approved yesterday by a House committee.
"This is designed as a personnel safety matter for the Department of Correction," Rep. Larry Justus, R-Henderson, told the House Judiciary Committee.
"What's been happening during some of the gas-chamber executions ... is that some of the gas has escaped to the prison area," he said. "In the last one, when they were carrying out the deceased, some of the gas escaped and the equipment supplying oxygen malfunctioned."
Approved on a voice vote, the bill goes before the full House.
The bill, which originated with a study commission between legislative sessions, would permit execution only by lethal injection in North Carolina.
Under the present law, a condemned inmate has until five days before his execution is carried out with has.
Lethal injection, Justus said, is also a more humane method of execution.
"I have talked to people who have witnessed executions by lethal gas, and it is not pleasant to watch," said Justus.
There are 183 inmates on death row. Justus said that only five inmates have been executed since he came to the General Assembly in 1985.
© Focal Point 1998 write to David Irving