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Outrageous -- another reason to be against the death penalty

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baby_bear Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 03:04 PM
Original message
Outrageous -- another reason to be against the death penalty

...a growing number of legal and medical experts are warning that the apparent tranquillity of a lethal injection may be deceptive. They say the standard method of executing people in most states could lead to paralysis that masks intense distress, leaving a wide-awake inmate unable to speak or cry out as he slowly suffocates.
Spurred by a lawsuit by a death row inmate here, advances in human and veterinary medicine, and a study last year that revealed for the first time the chemicals that many other states use to carry out executions, experts have started to question this part of the standard lethal injection method.

Pancuronium bromide paralyzes the skeletal muscles but does not affect the brain or nerves. A person injected with it remains conscious but cannot move or speak.

In Tennessee and about 30 other states, the chemical is used in combination with two others. The other chemicals can either ease or exacerbate the suffering the pancuronium bromide causes, depending on the dosages and the expertise of the prison personnel who administer them.

A judge here recently found that pancuronium bromide, marketed under the trade name Pavulon, has "no legitimate purpose."

"The subject gives all the appearances of a serene expiration when actually the subject is feeling and perceiving the excruciatingly painful ordeal of death by lethal injection," the judge, Ellen Hobbs Lyle, wrote, describing the worst-case scenario. "The Pavulon gives a false impression of serenity to viewers, making punishment by death more palatable and acceptable to society."

much more....absolutely outrageous.


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LoneStarLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 03:10 PM
Response to Original message
1. If You Think That's Evil, Check This Out:
From NY Times yesterday:

Court Begins New Term by Letting State Authority Expand

October 6, 2003

WASHINGTON, Oct. 6 - The Supreme Court today let stand a
ruling by a federal appeals court that Arkansas officials
may force a convicted murderer to take drugs to make him
sane enough to be executed.


In the Arkansas case, the appeals court based in St. Louis
had ruled, 6 to 5, that the Constitution's prohibition
against cruel and unusual punishment would not be violated
if the authorities forcibly administered antipsychotic
medication to the inmate, Charles Laverne Singleton.


The Supreme Court ruled in a pair of cases in 1986 that
executing the insane was prohibited by the Eighth
Amendment's edict against cruel and unusual punishment. In
one of the cases, Justice Lewis F. Powell set out the
standard, saying that "the Eighth Amendment forbids the
execution only of those who are unaware of the punishment
they are about to suffer and why they are to suffer it."


The appeals court judges were in sharp disagreement over
what should be done when they ruled in February. Judge
Roger L. Wollman, writing for the majority, said that the
court had a choice "between involuntary medication followed
by execution and no medication followed by psychosis and


Judge Gerald W. Heaney, in dissent, said the authorities
should have allowed the prisoner to be medicated without
the consequence of execution. "I believe that to execute a
man who is severely deranged without treatment, and
arguably incompetent when treated, is the pinnacle of what
Justice Marshall called `the barbarity of exacting mindless
vengeance.' "
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Myra Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 04:17 PM
Response to Original message
2. I know
It is outrageous.

Personally, I'm not even opposed to the
death penalty for moral reasons. I'm newly
opposed to the death penalty because justice
is a commodity only the wealthy can afford.
Our criminal justice system is totally broken.
And until I can have some reasonable confidence
that the guilty are being convicted instead of
merely the poor, I can't imagine supporting capital

I wonder how many have been put to death for crimes
they didn't commit.

Steve Earle is so right. It used to be the
big thing I disagreed with him on. Should
have known he was right. He always is.
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Vitruvius Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 04:22 PM
Response to Original message
3. MORE: In 2001, it became a crime for veterinarians in Tennessee to use
Edited on Tue Oct-07-03 04:25 PM by Vitruvius
one of the chemicals (pancuronium bromide) to euthanize pets. (SNIP)

The challenge to the use of pancuronium bromide was brought in chancery court here by Abu-Ali Abdur'Rahman, who is on death row for a 1986 murder. (SNIP) "They're saying I'm less than an animal," Mr. Abdur'Rahman said...

In most methods of lethal injection, pancuronium bromide is the second drug in a three-chemical sequence. The first is sodium thiopental, a so-called ultra-short-acting barbiturate. It can be effective for only minutes. (SNIP)

The third is potassium chloride, which stops the heart and causes excruciating pain if the prisoner is conscious. "It would basically deliver the maximum amount of pain the veins can deliver, which is a lot," Dr. Mark J. S. Heath, an anesthesiologist who teaches at Columbia, testified at a hearing for Mr. Abdur'Rahman.

One problem with the combination of chemicals, Dr. Heath said in an interview, is that the sodium thiopental could be inadequate or wear off. That would leave the prisoner conscious, paralyzed, suffocating and subject to extreme pain from the potassium chloride.

"You're in a chemical tomb," he said.

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