New Issue In Executions: Should The Death Chamber Be Silent?

Apr 25, 2017

The chamber where Arkansas inmates are put to death.
Credit Arkansas Department of Correction

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.