Preparing for Idaho's Execution of Paul Rhoades 

IDOC has tight schedule leading up to execution

Idaho's execution chamber.

George Prentice

Idaho's execution chamber.

Idahoans got their first glimpse of F Block in the Idaho Maximum Security Institution when published its photograph on Oct. 20. On Friday, Nov. 18, convicted rapist and murderer Paul Rhoades is slated to get his first, and last, look at the execution chamber.

Brent Reinke, the man in charge of Rhoades' execution, in addition to managing 6,700 other inmates in more than a dozen facilities, has been preparing for the fateful procedure for more than a year. This will be Reinke's first professional involvement in an execution. He has been director of the Idaho Department of Correction since 2007. If Rhoades is indeed put to death on Nov. 18, his will be the first Idaho execution since 1994 and only the second since 1957.

BW sat down with Reinke to talk about Rhoades and the detailed schedule leading up to the anticipated execution.

This extraordinary event is certainly outside of your day-to-day operations.

I first met with Gov. [C.L. "Butch"] Otter a year ago, and we were looking at the possibility of being here today. We wanted to make sure as we moved forward that we had an execution chamber that encompassed three areas--professionalism, respect and dignity.

What does that mean?

It's a state-of-the-art execution chamber. We spent some time with a number of our staff involved in the 1994 execution. We're concerned about lessons learned from them, and we've been watching the United States Supreme Court, particularly regarding cases in Arizona and Washington where they recently conducted executions. As we move forward, everything will be covered--as we move from 14 days to seven days, down to 24 hours, 12 hours and the event itself.

Is there an expense to this event?

Of course there is.

Do you have a sense of what that expense will be?

We'll know when we're done. As we work with our partners from a security standpoint, there will certainly be expenses. We're already doing some tabletop exercises with the Idaho State Police, the Idaho Guard, Boise Police and Kuna Fire. They're all involved.

Will a team of physicians be a part of the execution process?

There will be an escort team, a medical team and an injection team. The identities of those teams will all remain concealed.

Can you speak to maintaining an appropriate, structured environment for your staff and inmates over the next few weeks?

We're concerned about our inmate population, but above all, we're concerned about our staff because of the professionalism that they have and will need to maintain. We're drafting a message for our inmate population on what kind of disruptions they can expect, especially when we are within the 24-hour window to the event. We want to keep as minimal an interruption to our inmate population as we can. And we understand that they're no different than those on the outside of the fence in wanting to know what's going on. The thing we're letting our staff know is that this is not about us. We've got to focus on the victims. We've got to focus on making sure that what the juries found, and what the court has ordered, be carried out to the best of our ability with professionalism, respect and a dignified fashion.

What do you know about Rhoades?

A fair amount. Our warden has been working with him very intently. He's in the F Block holding cell now. We're going to treat him with as much dignity as we can, knowing the future.

How would you characterize his behavior since he has been behind bars?

The feedback I have received from staff is that, at times, he has good days and he has bad days, as do many of our individuals on Death Row. But at this point, I'm not equipped to speak to his character or how he's addressing the past.

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