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Lethal Mulligan:

Ohio authorities were supposed to execute Romell Bloom on Tuesday. Technicians spent two hours trying to find a vein to use for the lethal injection procedure, to no avail, prompting Governor Ted Strickland to order a one-week reprieve. Next week, they will try again. In the meantime, Bloom's attorneys and death penalty opponents will press the arguments that it would be unconstitutional to execute Bloom, either because Ohio's lethal injection protocol or a repeat attempt to execute Bloom constitutes cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. Here's coverage from the NYT and Cleveland Plain Dealer.

gullyborg (mail) (www):
Just jab the thing into his neck and squeeze the plunger hard and fast.

Seriously, he'll be dead in seconds. He isn't going to suffer any more than from any other method. And it's not like afterwards he will sue anybody for violating his rights.

This is sheer lunacy. Is that what are nation has become?
9.17.2009 6:46pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):
I bet they have him on suicide watch until the next try.
9.17.2009 6:49pm
stevesturm:
how cruel could it have been, given that he was assisting the execution team, in trying to find a usable vein?
9.17.2009 6:51pm
Sarah (mail) (www):
I don't understand why we have a situation where we keep the death penalty but we act like a bunch of clowns every time enforcement comes up. Either don't have the death penalty or accept that killing people is going to be unpleasant and deal with it accordingly. This "only EMTs can do it, you can't do anything but use a needle, make sure no one knows who killed the guy" stuff is a lot farther from ideal than either life imprisonment or a firing squad would be.
9.17.2009 7:08pm
thatguy (mail):
Right, like that fat guy a year or few ago?
That gives death row inmates the option of overeating or getting hooked on smack during years before execution to make veins buried or trashed?
9.17.2009 7:08pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Two hours of poking him sounds like torture to me....

Honestly, I am not entirely opposed to the death penalty in all cases, but there are times like this that I think firing squad is preferable to what we have today. If you cant kill the guy shooting at him for two hours, then you have problems I can't help you with....
9.17.2009 7:12pm
MCM (mail):
This "only EMTs can do it, you can't do anything but use a needle, make sure no one knows who killed the guy" stuff is a lot farther from ideal than either life imprisonment or a firing squad would be.


Actually, even when they used firing squads, one rifle would be loaded with a blank. Desires for doubt about the identity of the executioner are not a modern phenomenon.
9.17.2009 7:13pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

That gives death row inmates the option of overeating or getting hooked on smack during years before execution to make veins buried or trashed?

Ha. That's good. Real good. Where, pray tell, are they going to get fattening food or drugs in prison? Death row, no less. Oh I know, are they going to commit a murder, then in the hours or days before getting caught, they'll hang out at the buffet.
9.17.2009 7:13pm
jerry (mail):
Could someone with a medical background explain to me why we can't have a spray or chemical whose job it is to pop up veins?

I've had some really bad experiences with blood draws of the life saving kind. I am surprised there is no way to make veins pop out better.

That said, he was helping them find a vein because he was tortured, disgusted, and just wanted it over. You might feel that way too.
9.17.2009 7:15pm
Oren:

Just jab the thing into his neck and squeeze the plunger hard and fast.

That will just end up injecting it into the neck muscles, which would not cause the intended result.
9.17.2009 7:15pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

Desires for doubt about the identity of the executioner are not a modern phenomenon.

Pretty funny though. The executioner is just a techie, following orders if you will. You have everyone from the arresting officer to the prosecutor to the trial judge to the Supremes making decisions on whether that decide whether he gets the DP. Why not make everyone anonymous? Why only the techie?
9.17.2009 7:16pm
Wilpert Aloysius Gobsmacked (mail):
einhverfr beat me to it. If the first method doesn't work within an hour, go to plan B, then plan C, then plan D, etc. Get on with it. Putting someone to death is never going to be "pretty". Stop pretending otherwise. It makes the state government look like wusses. Well, lets face it. They are.
9.17.2009 7:18pm
Kent Scheidegger (mail) (www):

Where, pray tell, are they going to get fattening food or drugs in prison?


Yes, some death row inmates do gain a lot of weight. Back when Washington State had hanging, there was one extremely obese inmate who said that would be cruel in his case because it would decapitate him.
9.17.2009 7:20pm
Fub:
Kent Scheidegger wrote at 9.17.2009 7:20pm:
Yes, some death row inmates do gain a lot of weight. Back when Washington State had hanging, there was one extremely obese inmate who said that would be cruel in his case because it would decapitate him.
According to this NYT article,
Arizona hanged its murderers until 1930, when a condemned woman was accidentally decapitated. The state switched to the gas chamber in 1933 on the ground that it was more humane.
9.17.2009 7:37pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
This is why hanging is so much better. And more satisfying and cheaper.
9.17.2009 8:02pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Why would decapitation be cruel and unusual?
9.17.2009 8:08pm
therut (mail):
Next time it takes more the 2 sticks to get an IV in a patient in the ER to save their lives I will stop cause it is cruel and unusual punishment. This is why left wing lawyers and lawyers in general are generally loathed.
9.17.2009 8:11pm
Pat Conolly (mail):
I wonder if anyone's considered using carbon monoxide for executions. Seems painless, and effective. What would be the objections?
9.17.2009 8:11pm
Soronel Haetir (mail):
I would think CO2 or N2 would be preferable to CO. And both would take about as long as current lethal injection protocols.
9.17.2009 8:20pm
Guy:

Why would decapitation be cruel and unusual?

I suspect the case could be made that decapitation would be considered cruel and unusual even in 1789, so I'm a little surprised at this question, you don't even need to argue that "cruel and unusual" was intended to be interpreted by contemporary standards at the time it's applied. I'm curious, not trying to make a rhetorical question here: is there any punishment other than drawing and quartering and similarly barbaric practices you would consider to be cruel and unusual?
9.17.2009 8:32pm
Cassander:
At least in England, if you survived your hanging for a sufficiently long time (I think it was a day) you were let free, presumably on the assumption god had spared you. I wonder if that would apply here...
9.17.2009 8:35pm
Tom952 (mail):
CO would work, but it reminds people of the ugly scenes that occured when they used to gas them to death with hydrogen cyanide.
9.17.2009 8:35pm
Orson Buggeigh:
Washington's Governor, Christine Gregoire, was formerly our Attorney General - she's the party who decided to push for a change in methods of execution. Personally, I think we should return to hanging as plan A. Low tech, and simple. For fat guys, or anyone who previously tried to commit suicide by slashing their throat, plan B ought to be the firing squad. As noted above, the fact is, killing people generally isn't a clean process. Executions are supposed to result in the death of the condemned. Previous posters are correct. If you can't successfully hang someone or shoot them in less than two hours, you really shouldn't be in that line of work...
9.17.2009 8:36pm
Leo Marvin (mail):
thatguy:

That gives death row inmates the option of overeating or getting hooked on smack during years before execution to make veins buried or trashed?

Just the testimonial for intravenous drug abuse and obesity I've been waiting for!
9.17.2009 8:37pm
Guy:
I remember reading that one group of veterinarians argued that the current execution protocol is less humane than that used for putting down animals (a massive dose of barbiturates, I believe). Part of the problem is that no doctor was willing to create a method, so it had to be created by a non-doctor. Also the method used for execution is designed to minimize the discomfort of the witnesses (the first drug is a paralytic that keeps the prisoner from writhing around or moaning, and serves no medical purpose) not to minimize the discomfort of the executed individual. If the second drug (which kills pain) isn't administered properly, there's no way for the convict to communicate that it isn't working before the third drug (which is ordinarily agonizingly painful, but used to speed up the process) gets injected.
9.17.2009 8:39pm
Splunge:
Men, even criminals, should be allowed the dignity to die like men, not like anesthetized lab animals stretched out ready to be vivisected for science.

Our criminals should die on their feet if they choose, facing their executioners, under an open sky, with drama and drums and in an act of grim but efficient horror -- say, by a firing squad of top marksmen, or by guillotine.

If you're not willing to have his blood spray all over you, you shouldn't be killing a man.

The modern ideal that the "cruelty" of a punishment has more to do with how uncomfortable the witnesses are than the condemned is loathsomely narcissistic.
9.17.2009 8:42pm
Bama 1L:
Why would decapitation be cruel and unusual?

In an 1878 case, the Supreme Court seems to list beheading among the "punishments of torture" (what we would call "aggravated executions") that the Eighth Amendment forbids. Wilkerson v. Utah, 99 U.S. 130, 135-36 (1878). The case did uphold the constitutionality of execution by hanging and firing squad, though.
9.17.2009 8:56pm
Helen:
Soronel Haetir:

CO2 (carbon dioxide) would be an absolutely horrible way to execute someone. He would agonize as he suffocated. It's not lack of oxygen that stimulates us to take a breath; it's the buildup of CO2. Hold your breath for a minute to see exactly what that buildup of CO2 feels like, and then imagine not being able to take that breath. It would take several minutes for someone to be suffocated by CO2, and if there is any means of execution that qualifies as cruel, that would be it.
9.17.2009 9:00pm
Devin Allan DeBacker (mail):

Men, even criminals, should be allowed the dignity to die like men, not like anesthetized lab animals stretched out ready to be vivisected for science.

Our criminals should die on their feet if they choose, facing their executioners, under an open sky, with drama and drums and in an act of grim but efficient horror -- say, by a firing squad of top marksmen, or by guillotine.

If you're not willing to have his blood spray all over you, you shouldn't be killing a man.

The modern ideal that the "cruelty" of a punishment has more to do with how uncomfortable the witnesses are than the condemned is loathsomely narcissistic.


While I agree with your last statement about the modern ideal, dignity is an illusion. There's no dignity in the process of dying, no matter how it happens. It's just over.

Now, there may be something we call dignity that really reflects the comfort of society as whole in rationalizing the process of death.
9.17.2009 9:18pm
karrde (mail) (www):
Is there something wrong with the "cup of hemlock" method that was used in Socrates' time?

I earnestly want to know.
9.17.2009 9:34pm
Ben P:


While I agree with your last statement about the modern ideal, dignity is an illusion. There's no dignity in the process of dying, no matter how it happens. It's just over.

Now, there may be something we call dignity that really reflects the comfort of society as whole in rationalizing the process of death.


How can you rationalize dignity while living as anything but a societal construct in the first place?
9.17.2009 9:51pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Splunge, I agree completely.
9.17.2009 10:24pm
gasman (mail):
I think Splung has it right... death should be quick, but there is no need to pretend that is clinically neat and tidy.

Two hours finding a vein is not a botched execution, it is merely a patient who is a difficult stick. We find this situation some times. In the medical setting we either move on to another form of vascular access, or find a therapy that does not need vascular access. So either start a central line when the peripheral veins don't cooperate that day, or start an intraosseous line. These are all quick, easy, require only moderate training (it aint brain surgery after all), and with a little local anesthetic, largely painless.

The anti death penalty crowd is so hung up on minutia of the procedure it is unbelievable. It is as if they don't have any really good arguments regarding the concept of execution itself, so they focus on the clinically trivial parts.

A thousand other Americans suffered IV access difficulties today just as bad as this guy, and you don't see no one crying over that.
9.17.2009 10:55pm
Archon (mail):
Granted this was a 5-4 case decided under not the best circumstances, but it would seem that the Supreme Court has already addressed this situation in State of Louisiana Ex Rel. Francis v. Resweber, 329 U.S. 459 (1947).

I would think that given the two fact patterns that Willie Francis had it much worse (being nearly electrocuted to death) than Bloom had it (at most being poked with a needle maybe a dozen times or so.)
9.17.2009 11:18pm
Teller:
In the old days, when the rope broke, the death sentence was commuted, right?
9.17.2009 11:29pm
Just a Reader (mail):
Since CO is an identified "greehouse gas", someone would have to buy the necessary carbon credits before an execution.
9.17.2009 11:54pm
Denny Crane (mail):
Why can't they use a frying pan? Frying pans are cheap, readily available, and require no special skill to administer. If the frying pan is applied properly, the prisoner will not feel a thing.
9.18.2009 12:15am
Oren:
I vote we give the condemned the choice of any affordable method that is likely to kill him quickly. Firing squad, hanging, overdose on pills, overdose by IV, guillotine (my choice), ....

If it costs less than $5000 to implement, it's already 10x cheaper than arguing the 8A.
9.18.2009 1:48am
Milhouse (www):

In the old days, when the rope broke, the death sentence was commuted, right?

No. Sometimes if it happened repeatedly, the authorities would take it as a sign from Above and commute the sentence, but there was no law requiring them to do so.
9.18.2009 2:00am
Californio (mail):
I am loathe to say it, but the Chicoms have this one right: one bullet, paid for by the subject of the execution.

Despite the squimishness of the subject, I note that perhaps this is why the cable show Dexter is so popular - it features a socio-path who kills people who "deserve it". Dexter could find a vein - don't all citizens have something to contribute to our great republic? Onward.

P.S. - I looooooved the Obama rally today - the chanting crowds - the appeal to help the person of the PRESIDENT - not a cause or idea, but a person - soon we will have torch-lit rallies, marching, chanting and singing - all towards a glorious relentless bright shining future!!! (quick - someone dig up Lene Riefenstahl!!) Soon, companeros, soon -
9.18.2009 2:09am
Dave N (mail):
I have a unique perspective, since I am a death penalty prosecutor who has actually witnessed four executions in my career (the first time I literally stood next to the executioner).

Quite a bit of heat in the discussion thread, but not much light.

I am not sure why the Ohio protocal does not allow for a "cut down" if a vein is not found easily, but apparently it is not. That would have solved the problem long before the two-hour mark.

BTW, Teller, you are wrong. In the old days. if the rope broke they got a new one and strung up the condemned again. The concern with hanging was not the rope breaking, but what happened when the neck didn't. If done properly, death occurs quickly. If done improperly, strangulation is a slow painful way to go.
9.18.2009 2:11am
neurodoc:
ruufles: I bet they have him on suicide watch until the next try.
Maybe, and I think it raises an interesting question about the rights of those who await execution. Can the condemned refuse medical treatment or interventions (CPR in case of a heart attack) that would keep them alive until the execution can be carried out, or can those be imposed upon them because the sentence is to be carried out as planned, if possible?
guy: I suspect the case could be made that decapitation would be considered cruel and unusual even in 1789...
In the US and English-speaking countries perhaps, but not in France, where the guillotine was going strong at that time, having been introduced because it was thought to be a more humane way to go about executions.
Helen: CO2 (carbon dioxide) would be an absolutely horrible way to execute someone. He would agonize as he suffocated. It's not lack of oxygen that stimulates us to take a breath; it's the buildup of CO2. Hold your breath for a minute to see exactly what that buildup of CO2 feels like, and then imagine not being able to take that breath. It would take several minutes for someone to be suffocated by CO2, and if there is any means of execution that qualifies as cruel, that would be it.
Right about CO2 levels driving respiration, and I expect right about the impracticality/unpleasantness of suffocation by CO2. Those Russian submariners who perished before they could be rescued did not have an easy end.
Jonathan Adler: Lethal Mulligan
Gallows humor? Or is it gurney humor here?
9.18.2009 2:22am
Soronel Haetir (mail):
Helen,

Note that I included N2 on the list of possibles as well. Either seem preferable from a safety standpoint to CO with regard to everyone other than the condemned.

I also find it surprising that states just don't modify their drug dispensing laws to allow prison staff to acquire regular anesthetic agents. Would that be a Controlled Substances Act issue?

In regard to the comments above about liking to keep some mystery about who the actual executioner is, I've seen descriptions of lethal injection protocols that both do and do not use such devices. I am almost certain that Ohio does not use any such device, instead having an executioner manually operate syringes.
9.18.2009 2:25am
DaMav:
what @gasman said.

I worked as a phlebotomist and did training in a large County Hospital for over three years. We had tons of addicts, obese people, and elderly. We never, even once, were unable to place a line somewhere. And as he points out, if they were put in the hospital for treatment they would face no worse. Surely nobody would argue they shouldn't get care because they were a challenge to start an IV on.

This is a manufactured political disgrace caused by those who have lost the argument on capital punishment and now spend their time and legal talent erecting barriers to the minutia of the mechanics. It's time the word "reasonable" found its way into the methodology rules and leave it at that.
9.18.2009 2:30am
neurodoc:
Dave N: I am not sure why the Ohio protocal does not allow for a "cut down" if a vein is not found easily, but apparently it is not. That would have solved the problem long before the two-hour mark.

...The concern with hanging was not the rope breaking, but what happened when the neck didn't. If done properly, death occurs quickly. If done improperly, strangulation is a slow painful way to go.
Aside from military medics who might need to do a cut-down in a battlefield situation, I don't know who other than a physician is likely to have ever done one. Not a complicated affair, to be sure, but still it is a "procedure" and not the commonplace means of gaining venous access so as to administer the lethal cocktail. Another alternative when there is a problem gaining access through peripheral veins is to do a subclavian puncture (needle entering the chest just under the collar bone) and establishing a central venous line that way. But again, not the sort of thing EMTs will ordinarily have experience of, and few physicians would be willing to do it given the ethical and legal implications.

Dave N, was it somehow part of your official duties to be present at those executions or was it a purely voluntary undertaking on your part to see it through to the end?
9.18.2009 2:33am
JPG:
Since waterboarding is not torture, why not waterboarding them to death?
9.18.2009 2:41am
neurodoc:
BTW, I think gasman is an anethesiologist (and a JD?)speaking about gaining venous access to administer drugs in a "medical setting," which an execution chamber certainly isn't. Furthermore, I think when he says "we," he is referring to anethesiologists and other trained physicians (perhaps anesthetists too) rather than staff with less advanced training, even if it isn't "brain surgery" and only requires "moderate" training.

When chopping heads was the way it was done, I believe the condemned would sometimes tip the axman so as to encourage him to make it a well-placed blow, ending the ugly business quickly. I am remind of this because things didn't go smoothly in this case, though I doubt a tip to those attempting it wouldn't have made a difference.
9.18.2009 2:44am
neurodoc:
JPG: Since waterboarding is not torture, why not waterboarding them to death?
Because properly done, waterboarding does not result in death. (But you knew that, didn't you?)
9.18.2009 2:46am
Rich Rostrom (mail):
Neurodoc: "the condemned would sometimes tip the axman..."

The last words of the Duke of Monmouth:
Here are six guineas for you, and do not hack me as you did my lord Russell.


Personally, I think this has been an area of much foolishness.

"Electrocution" (a revolting coinage) is clumsy and often agonizing. It was adopted only because it seemed "scientific".

The traditional gas chamber (using cyanide) was, again, agonizing.

Lethal injection is clumsy, due to the condition of many subjects (gross obesity, veins destroyed by years of drug use). And slow.

I don't see why this simple method is not adopted: fix the subject in a chair with a gun barrel pointing up at the back of the head just above the neck, at a 60-degree again. Fire one bullet from the gun barrel by remote control. Instant, certain death with no possible suffering. One could use a small shotgun charge with small pellets to insure maximum brain destruction while perhaps avoiding an exit wounds.

Or a gas chamber with carbon monoxide, which kills without being perceived, AIUI.
9.18.2009 5:48am
JoelP:
One "problem" is that no medical personnel (certainly no anesthesiologists) should be involved in execution. So getting intravenous access can easily be difficult. But why should we be using intravenous access? If you believe (bizarrely) that drugs are the way to go, use intraosseous access. Surely, untrained executioners can at least find the shin or chest. And if you must do it this way, at least take out the succinylcholine.

But execution is not a medical procedure and should not look like one. As has been previously said many times this thread, bullets are a great way to kill. They're fast, simple, and we aren't fooling ourselves about what it is we're doing. But Hanging, decapitation, or even defenestration would be preferable to lethal injection.
9.18.2009 7:28am
Ben P:

And if you must do it this way, at least take out the succinylcholine.


Yes, by all means we want the accused thrashing about in pain as much as possible. Or maybe we can just blow their brains all over the room (hey, we can always just get the other death row inmates to clean it up!). We should just go back to public executions, that'd sure shock people into following the law!


Seriously, I'm not even opposed to the death penalty and the amount of naked blood thirst in this thread makes me worried.


As a side point, talking about finding a vein, half the people in this thread seem to be forgetting that in nearly every state Doctors and even nurses and trained techs have categorically refused to participate in lethal injections. The people doing this are typically barely trained. This isn't even the first time something like this has happened.
9.18.2009 9:55am
junyo:
It they didn't want it to be cruel, they'd tell him " We found the real killer! You're free to go! And sorry about the mixup, here's a limo, and there's dinner and a hooker waiting for you at a fancy restaurant!"

And once he gets in, blow up the limo.
9.18.2009 10:15am
Andy Rozell (mail):
The types of cruel and unusual punishment the folks in 1789 had in mind probably included ear-cropping, branding and other forms of mutilation, as well as quartering and beheading. It wouldn't have included quartering. Whatever it was, it would have been done in public.

I'm bothered by the idea of performing executions behind prison walls with only a few chosen witnesses. Execution is a public act carried out in the name of the state. We rightly insist on public trials and we should also insist on public punishment. If we're ashamed to let the whole world see what we're doing, then we shouldn't be doing it.

Just my thoughts.
9.18.2009 10:25am
Andy Rozell (mail):
Oops. It wouldn't have included hanging.
9.18.2009 10:26am
neurodoc:
This thread started as one about an attempt to execute that went awry, and it has properly remained focused on the "mechanics." Still, I'd be very interested in the "legal" question pertaining to "autonomy" and whether any remain for the condemned. They get some choice in how they are to be executed (e.g., lethal injection versus electrocution) and their last meal (lobster?), but can they choose to die sooner than scheduled by refusing life-prolonging treatments and interventions (no to antiarhymic drugs, chemotherapy, CPR), or even be allowed to commit "suicide"?
9.18.2009 10:35am
Soronel Haetir (mail):
neurodoc,

I would be very surprised if unwanted medical treatment could be forced upon a prisoner, perversely at least in those cases where a free person could refuse. I.E. chemotherapy could likely be refused, but not suicide prevention. CPR is a tougher call, though I would hope the state would show some sanity and just let the condemned expire. After all, more California death row inmates have died from natural causes than have actually been executed since the DP was reinstated.
9.18.2009 10:51am
DonP (mail):
Interesting?

Not one post has mentioned the victim of the killer, her mother Bessye Middelton, who's child was raped and butchered by Bloom, or her family and the incredible pain they must be going through watching this circus unfold.
9.18.2009 10:55am
Soronel Haetir (mail):
DonP,

Execution is the collective judgement of a community that a particular member is no longer fit to live. It should not be about the victim or survivors, though it is understandable that many such choose to be witnesses to the act to make sure that it is really over. My understanding is that in most states who can be witnesses is not formally limited, just that few choose to do so.
9.18.2009 11:10am
Franklin Drackman:
Theres a really large vein on the dorsum of the Penis (its why its called the "Main" vein) that even the most dedicated IV drug users ignore...
And all these Lawyer types and no body mentions the poor boy who was electrocuted twice in Louisiana in the 1940's? They had a portable electric chair since the law required the condemned to be executed in the parish they were convicted in... It'd make a great movie

Frank
9.18.2009 11:10am
Dave N (mail):
Neurodoc,

My attendance was work related (specifically to advise the warden if there was a legal reason to stop the execution).

I defer to your expertise with respect to "cut down" but I believe (though I am not sure) that Texas, in particular, has used this procedure in its executions. Additionally, there was a case from Alabama a few years ago where the condemned prisoner argued the "cut down" procedure was cruel and unusual, Nelson v. Campbell.
9.18.2009 11:20am
neurodoc:
Soronel Haetir: CPR is a tougher call, though I would hope the state would show some sanity and just let the condemned expire. After all, more California death row inmates have died from natural causes than have actually been executed since the DP was reinstated.
Thank you for that answer. Actually, it was the case of an ageing inmate on death row in California that first caused me to wonder about whether the condemned have any "autonomy" (a key concept in medical ethics and in end-of-life matters), specifically the "right to refuse treatment." That person had a history of heart disease and he wanted a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order in case he experienced cardiac arrest, and might thus cheat the "hangman" or executioner. The warden refused, saying that should he arrest, they would try to resuscitate him in order that he might later be executed by the state rather than allowed to die of natural causes.

If anyone has "legal" answers or reasoning to offer in response to my question(s), I'd love to hear it. (Same as or different from the issue of forcing treatment on someone in order to get them mentally competent so they can be tried for a crime, something that is allowed?)
9.18.2009 11:47am
Colin Fraizer (mail):
The use of the phrase "to no avail" in this post was a real missed opportunity.

I'd have gone with "tried for two hours to perform his lethal injection, but their efforts were _in vain_".
9.18.2009 12:10pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Oren:

I vote we give the condemned the choice of any affordable method that is likely to kill him quickly. Firing squad, hanging, overdose on pills, overdose by IV, guillotine (my choice), ....

If it costs less than $5000 to implement, it's already 10x cheaper than arguing the 8A.


I agree with this. Also beheading has to rank up there high on the list of relatively painless ways to die. I also think that allowing suicide of death row inmates would be sound policy.
9.18.2009 1:26pm
guest:
Guy:


If the second drug (which kills pain) isn't administered properly, there's no way for the convict to communicate that it isn't working before the third drug (which is ordinarily agonizingly painful, but used to speed up the process) gets injected.


We certainly wouldn't want "the convict" to have to experience any pain. After all, he was careful to extend the same courtesy to Tryna Middleton, age 14 before her untimely death, as he raped her and stabbed her in the heart.

Helen:


It would take several minutes for someone to be suffocated by CO2, and if there is any means of execution that qualifies as cruel, that would be it.


Really? You can't think of any other means of execution that might be more cruel? A poverty of imagination, IMO.
9.18.2009 3:50pm
Just a Reader (mail):
This seems to work quite well.

http://filecabi.net/video/exegrenade.html
9.18.2009 4:54pm
Just a Reader (mail):
I neglected to note...not for the faint of heart.
9.18.2009 4:56pm
Leo Marvin (mail):
Earwigs?
9.18.2009 5:00pm
gullyborg (mail) (www):
In response to my first comment, Oren said:

"That will just end up injecting it into the neck muscles, which would not cause the intended result."

Actually, there are pretty darned effected auto-injection delivery systems used to get nerve-gas antidote into the bloodstream that use a giant needle and a fast jab. Not to the neck, though. They are designed to use the femoral artery. Just touch them to the middle of the leg, and in an instant they inject into the "can't miss" artery. The neck-jab statement was more of an exclamation about the stupidity of this rather than clinical advice.

My point is, there are ways to get poison right into a major artery fast. They hurt like hell and do collateral damage. But if we are talking about an execution, why do we even care? Using something like a standard military-use atropine auto-injector - only filled with a massive dose of cyanide - will have the victim oblivious to the suffering in seconds. And do we care if we cause the victim's leg (etc.) permanent damage from the injection? HE IS GOING TO BE DEAD. DEATH IS CRUEL. GET OVER IT.

I support the death penalty without qualms about pain and suffering, provided it is over fast. I also support bullets to the head, rapid beheading, and any other method that is fast - as long as it is REALLY fast.

Hell, egg factories throw male chickens into industrial shredders that reduce them to particles in under a second. It is gruesome as hell, but their nervous systems are severed before they even have a chance to register pain. We could do the same for executions - the victims would literally feel nothing. The only "cruel and unusual" part would be for the onlookers - and I believe too much policy on execution is based on making those of us who live feel better about ourselves instead of addressing the real 8th Amendment intent of preventing barbaric suffering of the condemned.

Execution is a gruesome and horrible thing, no matter how little physical suffering the condemned feels. If you can accept that, as I do, then you can accept any execution method that is swift and sure. If you can't accept it, then no method of execution should be acceptable and you should oppose the death penalty entirely. You can't meet in the middle by bending over backwards to try to eliminate all possible suffering from the event. But what you can do - and what I fully support - is reserve the death penalty for the most heinous crimes after ensuring the most vigorous due process of law.
9.18.2009 6:23pm
marion (mail):
Earwigs! Great idea.

Over the years I've had to put down a couple horses.
The vet puts a needle in the biggest neck vein, then attaches a syringe with a massive dose of barbiturates. The horse literally drops dead within 1 or two seconds. Now the horse doesn't anticipate his death, and I realize the blood vessels are hard to find on a man anticpating death, but it is ironic that we kill our pets more humanely than prisoners.
As another poster said, there is no real dignity in the death scene, so just get it over with quickly.
9.18.2009 7:49pm
neurodoc:
gullyborg: filled with a massive dose of cyanide
Forgive the pun, but that would be overkill. Cyanide is lethal in remarkably small doses.
9.19.2009 10:06am
JoelP:
>Yes, by all means we want the accused thrashing about in pain as much as possible. Or maybe we can just blow their brains all over the room (hey, we can always just get the other death row inmates to clean it up!). We should just go back to public executions, that'd sure shock people into following the law!

BenP: you have no idea what you are talking about. Succinylcholine doesn't relieve pain, it only paralyzes (and of course means that some prisoners simply die wide awake but unable to breathe). Vets consider it inhumane when they put down an animal.

My claim that a gun would be better is not because I'm bloodthirsty. It's because I'm an anesthesiologist, and a gun is the most humane way I know to kill someone who didn't already have an IV. Even if they do, it's the most respectful way I can think of.
9.21.2009 10:01am
gasman (mail):
I too am an anesthesiologist.
All the arguments about the standard regimen (pentothal, pancuronium, potassium) being too painful or too risky for awareness are complete bunkum. Doses of pentothal sufficient to render 5 or 10 men unconscious certainly ought to to it for the condemned.
Need venous access easily, such that any medic can do it, try EZ-IO, a battery operated needle that enters the hollow space of the bones, providing rapid, easy, relatively painless venous access as good as a central line.
Many more clinical and humane methods can be thought up, but frankly, Gary Gilmore was probably the last man in America to the the balls to do this thing right.
9.21.2009 7:24pm

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