Drugs Of Death
The new tradition of States offing condemned prisoners with an intentional drug overdose is going to be reviewed by the courts. That is what Associated Press says. It is being repeated verbatim by numerous media outlets, including mainstream, lamestream, and dry creek bed.
The execution of Warren Hill was delayed. The court wants to consider the state’s decision to use an overdose of pentobarbital, instead of a three drug cocktail. The latest development is the court refusing to expedite the case, but to have oral arguments in November. PG left this comment at Peach Pundit, where he first heard this story.
1- The stories that you linked to regard sodium thiopental. It has been replaced by pentobarbital. The initial role of these two substances was to sedate the prisoner, so the other two drugs of the procedure could be used. (i.e. the gateway drug) The State has since decided to use a deliberate overdose of pentobarbital as a one shop stop.
2- This is a good decision. When SCOTUS ruled on chemical execution, they ruled on the three drug protocol, including sodium thiopental. Whether or not the State can change this at will is a matter for the courts to decide. This should provide lots of work for the legal industry.
3- Most of those death row inmates are not going anywhere anyway. The pace of executions is glacial.
4- This hemming and hawing about the number of drugs to use in an execution makes me wonder if the State is wise enough to employ the death penalty in a just and proper manner.
For those who just joined us, here is a review. When SCOTUS ruled that “lethal injection” was constitutional, the case referred to the Kentucky Protocol This was a three drug process. The protocol included sodium thiopental to kill pain, pancuronium bromide to paralyze the inmate and potassium chloride to stop the heart. (The spell check suggestion for Pancuronium is Pandemonium.)
The manufacturer of sodium thiopental objected to the use of their product in executions. States began to stockpile the drug, buying it from shady sources. Eventually, pentobarbital was used as a substitute. The manufacturer of pentobarbital objected to it’s use for executions, and this may cause problems in the future.
For various reasons, states decided to use a deliberate overdose of pentobarbital to waste the condemned. There are several reasons for this. Pancuronium bromide has been in short supply. Also, some say that the sedation is inadequate to prevent the pain caused by pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride. Some say that the one drug approach is more humane. Now, it appears that the court is going to have a say so.
CNN had a fun feature recently, about this issue. “Pentobarbital is widely available and has been used for physician-assisted suicide, including in Oregon, where the practice is legal in limited circumstances.”
There are a couple of other chemical execution stories today. This is from Associated Press via Washington Post.
Virginia has added a new drug to be used in executions to replace one that is in short supply. The Virginia Department of Corrections said Friday that Rocuronium Bromide can now be used in the lethal injection cocktail. The drug is an alternative to Pancuronium Bromide, which is scarce nationwide.
Richard Dieter of the Death Penalty Information Center says Virginia appears to be the first state to substitute a drug for Pancuronium Bromide, which is used to paralyze the muscles. He says Texas and Georgia have switched from the three-drug cocktail to a bigger dose of the sedative that typically is the first of three drugs administered. In May, an anti-death penalty group called Reprieve complained that Virginia had a stockpile of Pancuronium Bromide while hospitals are in short supply.
In Missouri, the plan is to do one drug executions using Propofol. This substance became famous when it caused Michael Jackson to leave the planet. Propofol is a British product, and some don’t want it imported to use in executions. (The spell check suggestion for Propofol is Foolproof.)
The Business Secretary Vince Cable is expected to introduce new legislative controls over the sale of Propofol, which will be used to prepare the injection that puts prisoners to death in America. It was also the drug used by Michael Jackson to treat his insomnia. The move was announced after Missouri became the first state to confirm it would begin using the drug in its executions, with others expected to follow, according to the Times.
Mr Cable said: “This country opposes the death penalty. We are clear that the state should never be complicit in judiciary executions through the use of British drugs in lethal injections.” He added a ban would not stop anaesthetics being sold the US for medical purposes. Since Missouri outlined its intention to use Propofol, campaigners have set out a legal challenge, arguing the drug causes pain before death, and humane administration of a fatal dose was unlikely.
A voice was heard in the distance, singing “Beat it, Beat it, no one wants to be defeated.”
Pictures are from The Library of Congress. This post was written like H. P. Lovecraft.