Friday, December 9, 2016

Lethal Injection Should Not Be This Difficult

After my two cents is a rough paste from Think Progress, and I sure hope that they don't mind me borrowing it. It's just here to illustrate that problem that people are having with medically killing our unfortunate death-penalty inmates. 

And should it be so hard? I mean, really? 

It's like they were trying to do it in the most degrading and uncomfortable way possible. First they strap the person in whose honor the execution is being given to a specially designed killing table. Then they hook some kind of special IV device into his arm, or arms. Then they've got these three giant cylinders of medicine with plungers. Number one is supposed to knock the person out, but it often misses the mark. Why they use this Rube Goldberg device is a mystery to me. It should be very simple. 

All you need to do is sit the honoree in a comfy chair. Give him or her a cocktail while a priest give him or her a pep talk and rolls up a sleeve. Then while the priest says a prayer, give the patient a shot of sodium pentothal. The same shot that they'd get if they were about to undergo abdominal surgery. It works every time. 

I have had that pleasure. The anesthesiologist approached me with the needle and said, "you're going to feel a pin prick. When you feel it, I want you to count backwards from 100." I remember the pin prick, and I remember forming the present intention to say, "one hundred." That's it. They proceeded to open me up from pillar to post, search around for my wayward, burst appendix, cut out the offending organs, make a couple of stitches, lift out my intestines and hose out the body cavity, replace everything and sew/staple me up, and place me in a hospital bed with tubes hanging out in a few places. 

What would be wrong with that knock-out method? After that shot, I can tell you, they could just inject bubbles into the condemned person's veins. That would work, and it would be cost effective, and the deceased would be never the wiser. 

But no, Rube Goldberg it is. And here's what happens. 

(Everything that follows comes from Think Progress, with my sincere appreciation.)

"A botched lethal injection ends in agony

Ronald B. Smith appeared to be conscious and gasping for breath during his lethal injection.

On Thursday night, Ronald B. Smith became the latest death row inmate to suffer during a lethal injection. The Alabama prisoner heaved and gasped for air for 13 minutes on the execution table, and there were reportedly no attempts to stop the procedure.
Smith’s 34-minute execution, consisting of the injection of a three-drug cocktail, began shortly after 10:30pm. But after the first drug, midazolam, was administered to render him unconscious, it was evident that Smith was conscious and in excruciating pain.
According to, he “appeared to be struggling for breath and heaved and coughed and clenched his left fist.” The head of the Department of Corrections (DOC) stepped in to test his level of consciousness by “calling out Smith’s name, brushing his eyebrows back, and pinching him under his left arm,” but the coughing and gasping didn’t let up. Smith also moved his right arm and hand after a second consciousness test was conducted.
In total, Smith’s suffering lasted between 10:34 and 10:47, at which point the remaining drugs were injected. Per Alabama Prison Commissioner Jeff Dunn’s own admission, there was no talk of halting the procedure and that the executioners stuck closely to “protocol.”
Smith ultimately died at 11:05, but his torturous demise is just the latest in a spate of botched executions involving midazolam, a controversial sedative at the heart of major legal battles in the past two years.

Scientists and pharmacologists agree that “midazolam is incapable of inducing a ‘deep, comalike unconsciousness,” like other sedatives administered during past executions. The medical community, legal experts, and human rights advocates call the use of midazolam — an unregulated drug that isn’t approved by the Federal Drug Administration for lethal injection — cruel and unusual.
In 2015, the controversy made it to the U.S. Supreme Court, which dealt a huge blow to opponents of the death penalty. In the final opinion, authored by Justice Samuel Alito, the court ruled that there must always be a mechanism to administer the death penalty, regardless of its reliability.

Smith was one of five death row inmates who filed a lawsuit against Alabama for its new use of midazolam as the sedative in the three-part cocktail. They said that midazolam wouldn’t be effective in masking the pain associated with the other two drugs used to stop heart and lung function. In lieu of the three drugs, the five prisoners fought to be executed with one hefty dose of midazolam.+

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