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Medicine News Politics

Botched Executions Put Lethal Injections Under New Scrutiny 483

carmendrahl writes: "Lethal injections are typically regarded as far more humane methods for execution compared to predecessors such as hanging and firing squads. But the truth about the procedure's humane-ness is unclear. Major medical associations have declared involvement of their member physicians in executions to be unethical, so that means that relatively inexperienced people administer the injections. Mounting supply challenges for the lethal drug cocktails involved are forcing execution teams to change procedures on the fly. This and other problems have contributed to recent crises in Oklahoma and Missouri. As a new story and interactive graphic explains, states are turning to a number of compound cocktails to get around the supply problems."
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Botched Executions Put Lethal Injections Under New Scrutiny

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  • by Virtucon ( 127420 ) on Friday May 23, 2014 @01:56PM (#47076395)

    Guillotine, Hanging, Firing Squad and the Electric Chair.

    You could also take standard drugs like Sodium Thiopental that are used in countries that allow euthanasia [wikipedia.org]

    Sodium thiopental is used intravenously for the purposes of euthanasia. In both Belgium and the Netherlands, where active euthanasia is allowed by law, the standard protocol recommends sodium thiopental as the ideal agent to induce coma, followed by pancuronium bromide.

    Intravenous administration is the most reliable and rapid way to accomplish euthanasia. A coma is first induced by intravenous administration of 20 mg/kg thiopental sodium (Nesdonal) in a small volume (10 ml physiological saline). Then, a triple dose of a non-depolarizing skeletal muscle relaxant is given, such as 20 mg pancuronium bromide (Pavulon) or 20 mg vecuronium bromide (Norcuron). The muscle relaxant should be given intravenously to ensure optimal availability but pancuronium bromide may be administered intramuscular at an increased dosage level of 40 mg.

    It's also cheap too. [igenericdrugs.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 23, 2014 @02:00PM (#47076469)

    Export of Sodium Thiopental and similar drugs to countries that allow executions are banned throughout the EU. That's why the USA is now looking for shitty homegrown replacements.

  • Re:Frosty (Score:5, Informative)

    by danlip ( 737336 ) on Friday May 23, 2014 @02:01PM (#47076499)

    You assume all the people put to death are actually guilty of the crime. This is certainly not true. Also, as the GP implied, plenty of people who are guilty of the crime don't get put to death. When was the last time you heard of a wealthy well-connected person sentenced to death?

  • Re:Stupid question (Score:5, Informative)

    by compro01 ( 777531 ) on Friday May 23, 2014 @02:05PM (#47076567)

    Because if you use those drugs for executions, the (European) manufacturers of them then get prohibited from selling them to the USA and you no longer have them for medical uses.

  • Re:Frosty (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 23, 2014 @02:17PM (#47076735)

    IAAL (several hundred FL criminal defense cases including felony jury trials, etc)

    It has almost nothing to do with the quality of lawyering involved. A significant portion of criminal defense cases have essentially pre-ordained outcomes due to the weight of evidence against the accused.

    Lawyers are really only useful in the few close cases- ie, ones where evidence supporting reasonable doubt can be found. A lot of the big cases in the media (OJ Simpson, Casey Anthony, Zimmerman) were actually extremely weak cases that were brought mainly because of media attention. It's easy for a defense attorney to look awesome when the state has brought a horribly weak case against your client.

    Conversely, in the more typical case, there's not much for a defense attorney to do when 10 witnesses and 6 different security cameras all say your client did the exact same thing. You're essentially just fighting for a decent plea so the judge doesn't get the discretion to send your client to prison forever after he sits through a trial listening to what your client did. And in cases involving raping and murdering babies, there's not going to be a plea offer unless it's a weak case.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 23, 2014 @02:21PM (#47076793)

    You do know that that sort of isolation invariably leads to insanity right? I'm not really sure how "roll-back-able" insanity is.

  • Re:Stupid question (Score:5, Informative)

    by mspohr ( 589790 ) on Friday May 23, 2014 @02:23PM (#47076825)

    Phenobarbitol (barbiturate) is what they use to kill people. The only manufacturer is in Europe and refuses to sell it to the US to kill people. Hence, the secrecy, mad scramble and botched executions.

  • Re:Frosty (Score:5, Informative)

    by CanadianMacFan ( 1900244 ) on Friday May 23, 2014 @02:24PM (#47076851)
    According to this study [theguardian.com] the rate is about 4.1%. The rate of people currently being found innocent after being sentenced to death is 1.6%.
  • by WhiteZook ( 3647835 ) on Friday May 23, 2014 @03:19PM (#47077539)
    Except that the sudden loss of blood pressure to the brain would normally cause immediate loss of consciousness. Of course, the fact that the decapitated people can't really tell what's happening makes it hard to tell exactly if/what they are experiencing.

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