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Crime The Courts News

Controversial Execution In Ohio Uses New Lethal Drug Combination 1038

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "CNN reports that Ohio inmate Dennis McGuire appeared to gasp and convulse for roughly 10 minutes before he finally died during his execution by lethal injection using a new combination of drugs. The new drugs were used because European-based manufacturers banned U.S. prisons from using their drugs in executions — among them, Danish-based Lundbeck, which manufactures pentobarbital. The state used a combination of the drugs midazolam, a sedative, and the painkiller hydromorphone, the state corrections department told CNN. In an opinion piece written for CNN earlier this week, a law professor noted that McGuire's attorneys argued he would 'suffocate to death in agony and terror.' 'The state disagrees. But the truth is that no one knows exactly how McGuire will die, how long it will take or what he will experience in the process,' wrote Elisabeth A. Semel, clinic professor of law and director of the Death Penalty Clinic at U.C. Berkeley School of Law. According to a pool report from journalists who witnessed the execution, the whole process took more than 15 minutes, during which McGuire made 'several loud snorting or snoring sounds.' Allen Bohnert, a public defender who lead McGuire's appeal to stop his execution in federal court on the grounds that the drugs would cause undue agony and terror, called the execution process a 'failed experiment' and said his office will look into what happened. 'The people of the state of Ohio should be appalled by what took place here today in their name.'"
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Controversial Execution In Ohio Uses New Lethal Drug Combination

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 17, 2014 @05:48PM (#45991521)

    So ignoring for a minute all the ethical questions etc, just thinking about the process. I do not have medical training, but I have always wondered why they can't just use the drugs used for general anesthetic in general surgeries? Put someone under with those, then you can stop their heart painlessly when they're unconscious. Certainly there is a large supply of those drugs around.

    Hasn't this been a solved problem for a hundred years or so?

  • by newcastlejon ( 1483695 ) on Friday January 17, 2014 @05:54PM (#45991629)

    Why not simply shoot them? I'm staunchly against the death penalty myself, but if you must do it then at least make it quick.

    Of course, putting a bullet in someone's head might make the people invited to watch the event just a tad squeamish...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 17, 2014 @06:01PM (#45991735)

    Of course, putting a bullet in someone's head might make the people invited to watch the event just a tad squeamish...

    That says to me we should get the people more involved in the event. So, give them each a baseball bat and have them just bludgeon the guy to death. It's more economical, too, since the bats can be reused for the next guy! I can't possibly see any way in which this idea could ever go wrong.


  • by Golddess ( 1361003 ) on Friday January 17, 2014 @06:13PM (#45991939)

    Let's not pretend that this man didn't understand or even endorse the death penalty.

    That is an interesting theory. Should the death penalty be reserved only for those who support it?

    I would say that no, it should be abolished completely. While I support the concept, the risks of getting things wrong are not worth it IMO.

  • by Lehk228 ( 705449 ) on Friday January 17, 2014 @06:16PM (#45991979) Journal
    gas chambers of all types are dangerous, if you make it totally painless/sansationless you also make it a hazard for workers if the system malfunctions.

    a fixed aim bench rifle of sufficient bore directly to the head would be a 100% effective and 100% painless execution, so long as the muzzle velocity is such that the brain is destroyed faster than a nerve impulse travels (approximately 60 mph iirc) it would be physically impossible to perceive any pain

    or we could just make life without parole the top possible penalty and save a ton of money AND make errors more reversible
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 17, 2014 @06:21PM (#45992045)

    That is an interesting theory. Should the death penalty be reserved only for those who support it?

    It should be reserved for those who have purposely killed others. Based on their actions they clearly believe that somebody else's actions rose to the level deserving of the death penalty. And by doing so I believe their actions met that requirement as well.

    Not the accidents, not those who are defending themselves, etc. Just those who purposely kill others. Their victims don't have the options for appeals, reviews, and years of waiting.

  • by iluvcapra ( 782887 ) on Friday January 17, 2014 @06:38PM (#45992383)

    The general anesthesia that gives the most reliable results, sodium thiopental, happens to be the drug the Dutch won't export. Most general anesthetics aren't capable of guaranteeing, to the extent a court requires, that the subject is unconscious, or of working fast enough, or being administered at the levels required to induce certain unconsciousness without causing toxic side effects- vomiting, convulsions, hallucinations, agonizing pain.

  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Friday January 17, 2014 @06:42PM (#45992453) Homepage Journal

    The phrasing in the 8th amendment is "cruel and unusual" FYI, and I'm pretty sure a court will find a stay of executions necessary until a new method is devised.

    What is considered Cruel and Unusual changes over time.

    A firing squad, beheading or hanging were considered just fine for a long time. Same goes for the Electric Chair, it was all the rage for decades. Now we're trying to put people to "sleep" with a comfy pillow and a bedtime story.

    Personally, I'd like to see hanging make a comeback.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 17, 2014 @06:54PM (#45992597)

    Wow. A sociopathic post (the one 2 levels above) gets up voted and this fair question gets downvoted.

    Lots of barbaric sociopathic death penalty fans in here then.

    Sad state of humanity.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 17, 2014 @07:00PM (#45992697)

    Nit: "An eye for an eye" was directly repudiated by Jesus, who advocated extremes of forgiveness instead.

    The superiority of restorative justice over retributive justice was a novel concept around year 30, and some Biblical authors were having trouble getting their heads around it, so you can see other quotations that seem to still have the Eye for an Eye flavor to them. But Jesus' refutation of that attitude, in Matthew, does not leave much room for interpretation. And, as if we needed clarity, his deeds (you know, like spending his last breath asking for forgiveness for all the people who had just nailed him to a cross and left him to die) back the attitude up very unambiguously.

    It makes the whole doctrine of Hell seem like something of an anachronism, however. Or rather, hell as "eternal conscious torment," which not only has the retributive justice angle, but also qualifies as a punishment that is egregiously worse than the crime. Other interpretations, based on Jesus' use of the word "Gehenna" and its varied meanings at the time, attempt to re-interpret Hell as something more restorative in nature. But such ideas are not in the mainstream (and require a lot more education in Biblical history and Higher Criticism than most care to obtain).

  • by ChrisMaple ( 607946 ) on Friday January 17, 2014 @07:09PM (#45992821)

    "Judge not, lest you be judged" is the motto of an amoral coward. An honorable man judges, first himself and then others as needed.

    Those who make commandments are unfit to command. Those who follow commandments instead of using their own judgement, are unfit for living.

  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Friday January 17, 2014 @07:11PM (#45992839) Homepage Journal

    So your only happy when you/your society is as bad as he was.
    You cheapen all life.

    This raises a point.

    Is it vengeance or is that we simply want these people out of our lives permanently.

    Some clearly want the convicted to get their comeuppance -- they want closure of a final variety, this convict will pay the ultimate price, at least in this mortal form, being ejected from the game.

    Others see no chance of reforming the convict and do not relish them living a relatively easy life while everyone else has to work for their food and shelter. Prison life isn't really so horrible that some people are willing to return to it -- finding the outside world too much of a challenge or this is where their buddies from the street are and now they can go hang with them. Prison isn't so much a punishment as a way to segregate those convicted from society and visa-versa. Were you in a tiny town you and your neighbors may feel a need for accelerated and terminal judgement against villains, even of offences which seem of too little consequence to warrant a death sentence -- such it was in many sparsely populated communities at times in history.

  • by stoploss ( 2842505 ) on Friday January 17, 2014 @07:23PM (#45993027)

    If we can me completely certain that there never will be an error in a capitol crime sentencing, I would advocate immediately dropping the killer in a wood chipper head first. However, being as there is always going to be some error in the legal system the question we should be asking is, "How many innocent people are we willing to murder in the name of revenge/justice?"

    I'm sympathetic to this line of reasoning; however, by logical extension you must also be against any sort of punishment for criminals at all. For while death is a permanent, irrevocable punishment, so is any form of wrongful incarceration. You can't undo the loss of a portion of a life wrongly spent in prison (and no, monetary compensation isn't equivalent).

    Ultimately, the answer is yes, some small level of error must be acceptable in the criminal justice system, or we must otherwise let all the accused go free. I am willing to accept this in the death penalty as well.

    And if you're asking me whether I, as an innocent person, would prefer an overdose of opiod narcotics and tranquilizers (i.e. what this admitted criminal received) vs a lifetime spent incarcerated, then yes I would. Just like I would be willing to risk death by terrorist rather than have this country sacrifice all our ideals (as we unfortunately did instead, during the past 12 years).

    FYI: the term is "capital punishment", unless you are using a synecdoche to refer to penalizing Congress (and who doesn't dream of that?)

  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp ( 442658 ) on Friday January 17, 2014 @08:17PM (#45993605) Journal

    Most pacifists love initiation of force -- when it's the government enforcing political agendas beyond securing basic freedoms and rights. In this, they are not so different from most people.

We're living in a golden age. All you need is gold. -- D.W. Robertson.