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ACLU Says Idaho Conceals Execution Procedure From Witnesses

Idaho renovated a cell block at the state's maximum security prison to serve as the execution chamber for Paul Ezra Rhoades. Photo courtesy of Idaho Department of Correction
Idaho renovated a cell block at the state's maximum security prison to serve as the execution chamber for Paul Ezra Rhoades. Photo courtesy of Idaho Department of Correction
Paul Ezra Rhoades was convicted in 1988 of first-degree murder, kidnapping and rape. Photo courtesy of Idaho Department of Correction
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Paul Ezra Rhoades was convicted in 1988 of first-degree murder, kidnapping and rape. Photo courtesy of Idaho Department of Correction

The American Civil Liberties Union says Idaho is violating a federal court's ruling on execution procedures. The state is set to execute convicted murderer Paul Ezra Rhoades by lethal injection on Friday morning.

The Idaho Department of Correction allows witnesses at executions, including members of the press. But only after the execution team has secured the inmate to the table and inserted two IV lines.

The ACLU of Idaho charges that violates a 2002 ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. It said that witnesses have a First Amendment right to "uninterrupted viewing of executions from the moment the condemned enters the execution chamber."

Monica Hopkins of the ACLU of Idaho says the state's procedures leave unanswered questions.

"We will not know as the public, how sedated he was. Did he resist? How did the Department of Correction officials comport themselves?" she says.

The Idaho Department of Correction says the director is reviewing the ACLU's letter of concern.

Oregon is also preparing for an execution. Gary Haugen's death is tentatively set for Dec. 6. Under Oregon's guidelines, witnesses are escorted into the viewing area before the condemned enters the execution chamber.

On the Web:

Idaho's new guidelines on executions

http://www.idoc.idaho.gov/sites/default/files/webfm/documents/about_us/policies_and_forms/policypublic/1350201001.pdf

ACLU Idaho:

http://www.acluidaho.org/

Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network

Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network

Inland Northwest Correspondent Jessica Robinson reports from the Northwest News Network's bureau in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. From the politics of wolves to mining regulation to small town gay rights movements, Jessica covers the economic, demographic and environmental trends that are shaping places east of the Cascades.