Thursday, December 20, 2007

Former executioners sue SC prison officials

Left: Execution photograph from The Black Sentinel

Bob Dylan said, "The executioner's face is always well-hidden."

Well, not this time. They are coming forward to say, enough. And God bless them for it.

Former executioners sue prison officials

2 claim they lacked training, were forced to perform job

By Tim Smith
STAFF WRITER, Greenville News
December 20, 2007

COLUMBIA -- Two former state executioners have filed federal lawsuits against the prison system’s top officials, alleging the executioners weren’t trained and were forced to execute inmates or lose their jobs and rank as majors.

Terry Bracey and Ira Craig Baxley, who both worked for the prison system for more than 20 years, filed suits against Jon Ozmint, director of the state’s prison system, and Robert Ward, director of operations for the agency.

Both executioners retired from the department on disability and have pending workers’ compensation claims against the agency, according to their attorney, Lewis Cromer, a Columbia lawyer who has represented government whistleblowers.

A spokesman for the prison system said he was aware of the lawsuits. "Anyone can file a lawsuit filled with false allegations," spokesman Josh Gelinas said. "Some lawyers will file them and send out a press release announcing it."
Maybe, but not just anyone is an executioner.

The lawsuits themselves are difficult reading.
The suits paint a gruesome picture of executions in the state and allege "accidental malfunctions of death apparatus." Most of the executions in the state over the past decade have been by lethal injection, but at least one was done using the electric chair, according to the suits.

Both men alleged they were forced to act as executioner "against their will" although they said the agency labeled the job as voluntary.

Neither man was trained or prepared for using the electric chair, the suits allege, "with its shocking smell and scene of agony."

And neither man was offered counseling, the suits allege.

"Although these executions were barbaric, gruesome and repulsive to the plaintiff, he continued to perform them under the implied threat by the defendant Ward that such service was necessary if he was to continue to act as team leader and to receive the salary supplement and other benefits of his major’s position," Baxley’s suit alleges.

Baxley killed eight inmates as executioner, according to his suit, and participated in two other executions.

Baxley’s suit alleges that in one execution the "plaintiff was exposed to poison, blood and a horrible death scene where the lethal syringe came out of the inmate’s arm during the execution."

Baxley alleged that some executions were carried out in which he alone did the executions.

Bracey alleged that he was identified as the executioner, though their identities weren’t supposed to be made known.

A third executioner who didn’t wish to do the job voluntarily later committed suicide, the suits allege.

Bracey alleged in his suit that the executioners’ treatment by Ozmint and Ward constituted "emotional distress and treatment so severe that no reasonable person should be required to endure it."
One wonders if this could be the beginning of a trend? Will this finally be the abolition of the death penalty?

Baxley sent an email to Ozmint voicing concerns about being forced to be an executioner, the lawsuit alleges.

"Ozmint responded that if he did not like it, he could transfer (losing his position and supplement) and additionally if he was being treated badly by (the worker), he could do something else," the suit alleges.

Baxley alleges Ward and Ozmint "began a ruthless and unrelenting campaign of retaliation, harassments, threats and criticisms ultimately and proximately resulting in the plaintiff’s physical and emotional collapse."

Baxley is seeking $1 million in damages, and Bracey is seeking $5 million.
PDF file: Ira Baxley's lawsuit

PDF file: Terry Bracey's lawsuit

Godspeed, gentlemen. Sue their asses off.

Listening to: Nina Simone - I Shall Be Released
via FoxyTunes


Haddock said...

That's got to be one of the worst jobs in the world.

CyberCelt said...

I always wondered how they filled that position!

Seasons Greetings and Cool Yule.

Anonymous said...

Some say that this job will not bother them. You do not know the affects it takes on you mind until after you have done one. I a war you have the"enemy" shooting at you so you are defending youreself and your contry. I an execution the condemded did nothing to you and has probably spent 10 years a a model prisoner and you out right kill him. In SC not training was offered at all and no counseling prior to the execution or after. I dont care how stromg or bad you are but it gets to you and then to top that off your supervisors act like it is a joke a treat evevryone involved like trash. If some of you only knew the truth which i hope will come out you will see the many proplems with corrections the past few years.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the last comment. You never know how soething will effect your life. These men were both former Marines, one ran SWAT for Corrrections and one the Riot Squad. They had no training whatsoever, they were offered no counseling before or after an Execution and were treated like trash by their Supervisors. A person can only take so much before they reach a breaking point!

Grace said...

I'm sorry but I have no pity for these men. They knew what they were getting into when they held their hand out for money.

Now, as (a lot of) time has passed and their consciences have gotten the better of them, they feel they can justify their stance by claiming victim and acting accordingly.

What did they expect from an electric chair - a goddamned picnic?

Their psychological pains are their just desserts.

May they both end up in Hell.

worldlyman said...

Well, Grace, if you feel that strongly against those men who carried out executions...let's ask if YOU HAVE THE GUTS to actually strap someone into an electric chair or gurney and pull the switch (push the needle) yourself!

Could you live with that? Could you sleep on that? I thought so.

"Corrections" should not involve actually killing prisoners who are already out of circulation.

Till the day! said...

Microwave will take care of it no matter what. somebody has to pay the price.

Anonymous said...

Does anybody know the required training for an executioner in South Carolina? I know Texas only requires 2 days (2 walk-thrus of two separate executions).