The Cruel and Unusual Punishment of Doyle Lee Hamm

Press

From The Nation:

The Cruel and Unusual Punishment of Doyle Lee Hamm
The State of Alabama was warned that its planned execution of Hamm would be painful and torturous. It kept going anyway.

"Last Thursday the state of Alabama tried and failed to execute Doyle Lee Hamm, a prisoner who has spent more than half his life on death row for a murder committed in 1987. The botched execution attempt, which lasted hours and left Hamm covered in blood, was one of three lethal injections scheduled in the United States that day. Its gruesome outcome has horrified criminal-justice advocates across the country, who see this execution as yet another blatant violation of the Constitution’s guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment.

According to Hamm’s attorney, Bernard Harcourt, the two-person execution team stuck needles in Hamm’s legs half a dozen times, but were unable to locate a surface-level vein. They then moved on to Hamm’s groin, which they stabbed another half-dozen times. In the process, they may have punctured his bladder and femoral artery—Hamm was gushing blood as the execution proceeded, and he urinated blood for most of the following day, Harcourt reported. At the urging of the state employee who was there, the execution team gave up just before midnight, worried that Hamm’s death warrant would expire.

Harcourt, a Columbia law professor who has represented Hamm since the two men met in 1990, describes the process as “torture,” and there is certainly every indication that the multi-hour execution attempt was cruel, harrowing, and painful. Hamm was “remarkably stoic” and “emotionally mature” as the date of his execution drew nearer, the lawyer said, but when the two men saw each other after the botched execution, Hamm was “traumatized,” shaken up and clearly still in pain."

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