Lethal Injection Execution ‘Cruel’ – U.S. Researchers (Yahoo)

American researchers have called for an halt to lethal injection, the most common method of capital punishment in the United States, because it is not always a humane and painless way to die.

Some executed prisoners may have suffered unnecessarily because they had not been sedated properly, they said.

The current way inmates are given lethal injections does not even meet veterinary standards for putting down animals, they added.

Here’s the quote from the home page of the Lancet, one of the best known science journals (yeah, the kind of people who “believe” in evolution, what else can you expect from these libruls):

The Lancet

959 people have been executed in the USA by lethal injection since 1976. Anaesthesia during lethal injection is essential to minimise suffering and to maintain public acceptance of the practice. Leonidas Koniaris and colleagues report in a Research Letter how executioners often have no anaesthesia training. Analysis of post-mortem reports showed that 43 of 49 executed prisoners had blood thiopental concentrations lower than that required for surgery. An Editorial comments: “Capital punishment is not only an atrocity, but also a stain on the record of the world’s most powerful democracy. Doctors should not be in the job of killing. Those who do participate in this barbaric act are shameful examples of how a profession has allowed its values to be corrupted by state violence.”

(Registration is free but currently unavailable, so I am unable to provide more detailed quotes. If anyone has access and can send me the linked documents, I’ll update the story accordingly)

Death penalty has been extensively debated. It’s often used as an argument to show how “civilised” Europe is and how the USA are not, but the fact is that a lot of people are ambivalent and can find circumstances when it would seem to be an appropriate punishment (I am not of that position, but I understand the arguments).

What is clearly unacceptable is the way it is done with a worryingly high frequency in the USA, with the following ghastly stories heard over and over again:

  • the accused who do not benefit from the most basic legal defense;
  • cases where elements casting strong doubts on the guilt of the accused are dismissed or ignored for no aparent reason;
  • the striking racial profile of those sentenced to death, with a much higher rate of sentencing, all things being equal, for blacks;
  • of course, all the high profile cases when people were found innocent after DNA tests or other similar tests were made, often long after the sentence had been passed on them.

And now this new information that the actual executions are unncessarility cruel.

Read that again:

Anesthesia is given during a lethal injection to minimize suffering. Without it the prisoner would suffocate and experience horrible pain, according to Koniaris.

But in their analysis of protocols followed during lethal injections in Texas and Virginia, where 45 percent of executions in the United States are conducted, they found there was no monitoring of the anesthesia.

Emergency medical technicians who administered the drugs had no training in anesthesia and there were no reviews after the executions.

When the researchers examined data from autopsies done following 49 executions in Arizona, Georgia and North and South Carolina, they found concentrations of the drug in the blood in 43 cases were lower than that needed for surgery.

Twenty-one prisoners had drug levels that were consistent with awareness.

There seems to be a form of revelling in cruel behavior amongst some portions of the American public, and this streak has also been visible in the conduct of Bushco’s foreign policy and its surprising (to most of the population of the world and to most decent people on sites like this one) popularity: “let’s nuke the bastards”, “they (the Ay-rabs) deserve what they get”, etc…

So it’s not surprising, but it is hard to reconcile with the values that are supposed to be defended by this behavior, i.e. the rule of law, the highest moral norms.

Doesn’t morality apply in the behavior towards prisoners (even if sentenced for despicable crimes) or towards the other people of the world? Are they not human and deserving of the same rights as “normal” Americans?

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