Joseph Paul Franklin, the serial killer guilty of murdering 22 people in an effort to instigate a race war, was set to die by lethal injection at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. Though the 63-year-old has been accused of multiple murders, he has been on death row for the sniper attack that killed Gerald Gordon. Franklin has also admitted to shooting Larry Flynt, who is the publisher for Hustler magazine. Between 1977 and 1980, Franklin sought out Jews and African-Americans to murder as part of his white supremacist ideology.
Concerns over the drug intended for administration during Franklin’s scheduled lethal injection led to the decision to ultimately grant the stay of execution. Through a series of considerations for relatively new drug choices as options for lethal injection in the state of Missouri, various selections have been proposed and then denied. First, Missouri had proposed using propofol until Governor Jay Nixon ordered against it.
The next proposed drug, pentobarbital, has not had sufficient data released about the process of administration to warrant the drug’s usage. As a result, U.S. District Court Judge Nanette Laughrey ruled that execution protocol for Missouri must be refined before allowing a lethal injection to occur and granted the stay of execution for Franklin.
“Throughout this litigation, the details of the execution protocol have been illusive at best. It is clear from the procedural history of this case that through no fault of his own, Franklin could not resolve his claims without a stay of his scheduled execution date. Franklin has been afforded no time to research the risk of pain associated with the Department’s new protocol, the quality of the pentobarbital provided, and the record of the source of the pentobarbital,” Laughrey wrote.
Joseph Paul Franklin was interviewed from prison earlier where he expressed his hopes to be granted life without parole instead of being subjected to lethal injection.
Laughrey went on to detail her decision, “Given the irreversible nature of the death penalty and plaintiffs’ medical evidence and allegations, a stay is necessary to ensure that the defendants’ last act against Franklin is not permanent, irremediable cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.”
The heinous nature of the crimes committed by Franklin in spite of his protestations to be given a second chance as well as his belief at becoming a changed man while in prison are at the center of a debate that rages considering the rights of those on death row. Should these individuals be given second chances, and should the process of administering death be restricted to more stringent guidelines whereby potential pain is decreased? Is the level of humanity offered to these criminals contingent on the lack of humanity initially shown by their actions?