VARNER, Ark. – The nation’s first double execution in 16 years is raising a new issue involving transparency and the death penalty: Should witnesses be allowed to hear what goes on in the death chamber?
A lawyer who watched Monday’s executions in Arkansas says he saw an inmate open his mouth several times when it should have been still. That prompted another lawyer to claim in a court filing that Jack Jones was gulping for air after receiving a sedative, the first component of a lethal injection.
Other witnesses did not see it that way. An open microphone could have settled the question.
Arkansas authorities say their procedure is to turn off a microphone in the chamber after an inmate’s last statement and turn it on again for the pronouncement of death.