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Charles Pierce is a bit angry

And he should be. So am I. The state of Oklahoma tortured a man to death, in the name of justice. Clayton Lockett was a bad man who committed a deeply evil act: he shot a young woman who caught him in a robbery and then buried her alive. I have no sympathy for the guy at all. But the state of Oklahoma convicted him and then sentenced him to death by lethal injection…and botched it. It took him half an hour to die, choking and seizing.

Isn’t torturing someone to death what Lockett was convicted of?

This is the problem: the death penalty ends up turning all of us into murderers, and I’d rather not promote the same brutality that Clayton Lockett committed. It dehumanizes us. All you have to do is look at the first five comments on the news story in the Miami Herald.

Why over complicate it, use a long drop gallows, or a bullet to the head.

Who cares how he died! Maybe he should of thought of this before he beat a women to death in her own home while he was trying to break and enter

how sad gee I wonder if he had the same feeling about his victim, before he killed piece of sht
if it where me I would had made it long and slow

Did the victim die humanely?

did u hear what this scum bag did to his victim he isn’t human anyway got just what he deserved

We’re just fostering barbarism when we don’t reject these kinds of sentiments…and it makes it hard to reject them when states support them.

Also, another thing that strikes me about these many stories of botched executions, is why is this so difficult? We have countries and a few states with legal euthanasia, practically every veterinarian has put pets to sleep without this ghastly botch, and I’ve personally euthanized many large lab animals — killing gently is easy. There are many drugs that are dangerous because they can kill you quietly, painlessly, almost without you noticing; people buy them, often illegally, for the pleasant effects at low doses.

So why does our bloated, over-funded penal system have such difficulties with this whole process? It’s almost as if the commenters up above are running the whole show, and are maliciously screwing up the procedure to cause maximum agony.

Comments

  1. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    There is no segment of the criminal justice system in the US that couldn’t do with reform. Charging 13 year olds as adults, pay differentials between prosecutors and public defenders, jurisdictions that force judges into elections where **conviction rate** is considered an important piece of information for voters to have.

    The death penalty is a great place to start.

    …But reformers have some serious job security.

  2. Desert Son, OM says

    Another thing we need to work on in the U.S., related to this quote in the subject post:

    he isn’t human anyway

    Actually Lockett is entirely human, and the behavior he was convicted of is, too, and so is the behavior meted out in response. Horrifying . . . and human. Welcome to us. We’re the species that continues to recreate horrific behaviors on scales both individual and grand, in both the crimes we commit and the ways we address the crimes that are committed.

    Still learning,

    Robert

  3. says

    Usually I’m not inclined to impute maliciousness when incompetence and stupidity provide a perfectly adequate explanation requiring fewer assumptions. But then I read comments like those of our esteemed fellow countrymen, and, well, “vicious, petty little apes” starts to seem like a much more reasonable hypothesis.

  4. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    This is one of those stories where I look at states like Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas and just say, “What is wrong with you people!?!”

  5. Moggie says

    This was not merely a botched execution. As I understand it, it was performed using an untried method. The Guardian says:

    Oklahoma decided to lethally inject Lockett and Warner with midazolam, which acts as a sedative and is also used as an anti-seizure drug, followed by vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride. Florida has used a similar method but it employed a dose of midazolam five times greater. Ohio used midazolam alongside a different drug, hydromorphone, in the January execution of Dennis McGuire, which took more than 20 minutes.

    In a sense, the US is conducting medical experiments on prisoners, without their consent. Americans, I hope you’re proud of this.

  6. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Moggie@5,
    If these were experiments, I would expect the experimenters to improve over time. They aren’t. This is 8th graders playing around with bleach and oven cleaner and a chemistry set.

  7. Marc Abian says

    #5

    Americans, I hope you’re proud of this.

    The worrying thing is I think some of them would be.

  8. Furr-a-Bruin says

    Indeed, PZ – I wonder the same thing. Any time I’ve heard of someone having to euthanize a pet, it’s been described as sad but peaceful. For that matter, people trying to illicitly synthesize extremely powerful drugs like alpha-methyl-fentanyl have wound up ODing themselves from what would otherwise be considered trace amounts they exposed themselves to during the attempt.

    Part of the problem is that some of the drugs in the previously preferred 3-drug regimen are no longer made in the USA and the European manufacturers are doing their best to prevent them being obtained for executions – so that’s the reason for this kind of “experimentation.” I can also imagine it might be difficult to find an expert on the necessary drugs (an anesthesiologist, for example) willing to consult on such a procedure.

  9. says

    he isn’t human anyway

    Bullshit. Yes, he was a human being. Human beings commit evil acts all the godsdamned time. Othering does not help, nor does basing your judgement on vengeance.

  10. frankensteinmonster says

    I’d rather not promote the same brutality that Clayton Lockett committed. It dehumanizes us.

    Given that humans are just a particularly sadistic breed of ape, how can sadistic revenge dehumanize us ? It’s just doing as humans do.

  11. pacal says

    Yes I also have little sympathy for the creep in this case who was executed. However killing in such a brutal and sick way causes us all to die a little bit. It is gruesome and one of the reasons the death penalty is a bad idea.

    Has for the death-porn fetishists – Ugh! Celebrating a gruesome death is deeply disturbing. What I find also disturbing is how people get themselves all worked up over occasional killers who butcher tiny numbers while all too often having no problem with mass killers if it is cloaked in war etc. Drone strikes anyone; so-called “terrorists” dying under torture.

  12. coragyps says

    What about a tank of argon and a phone booth looking arrangement to fill with it, if you insist on a death penalty? I’m going to say that you will check out without even noticing it with an arrangement like that – no CO2 buildup in your blood, no holes in your arms…..you could even have it displace the air silently.

    Minimized barbarism, at least.

  13. palefury says

    Those Miami Herald comments exemplify why I am opposed to the death penalty.
    Enough of this old testament “eye for an eye” bullshit.

  14. Eirik van der Meer says

    I do understand the arguments for the death penalty, and I can’t say i was sad when I saw Saddam Hussein being executed. But ultimately what the death penalty teaches is that the deliberate murder of a defenseless man can be justified. And I don’t see how that is going to protect the lives of innocent people.

    This is a moral choice, either you say that taking lives is wrong or you say it’s not. If there ewer was a need for an absolute moral line, this is it. Human lives have an intrinsic value.

  15. movac says

    Furr-a-Bruin@8 is correct: the manufacturer of pentobarbital has refused to sell to the US because it would be used in executions, leading to a shortage and experimentation. Lacking the resources to kill “humanely” is apparently not enough to stop these states from killing. That second link contains this abominable passage:

    Even though U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Frost called the use of compounded drugs an “experiment” in the lethal injection process, he ruled that it did not violate the U.S. Constitution.

    “The law teaches that Ohio is free to innovate and to evolve its procedures for administering capital punishment,” Frost said, according to a report by the Associated Press.

    Literal medical experimentation on death-row inmates isn’t cruel or unusual according to this actual judge.

    This is quite a dilemma for an ethical pharmaceutical manufacturer: create a chemical that will be used to kill, or refuse and watch the killing continue with more cruelty?

  16. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Allan Frost, 14:

    I get why you say that, i really do. But I don’t want to make the argument, “Let’s only kill the guilty.” And when you make the argument, “Death penalty is bad, it’s worse when we kill the innocent,” I think it makes it seem like the reasonable compromise is to only kill the guilty. Then, even if you haven’t made the argument, you’re encouraging other folks to make that argument and nudging society towards compromise kill policies instead of toward ending the killing.

    It’s a tough call to make – I’m often on the side of harm reduction until achieving harm elimination. But this isn’t widespread social behavior. This is government acting pursuant to law. It is literally no more difficult to change the law to end the death penalty than it is to change the law as a sop to people who believe that human systems of justice can perfectly and without error or corruption distinguish the innocent from the guilty.

    So in this particular case, I’m not pro-harm reduction. I’m for stopping the fucking killing.

  17. Amphiox says

    In most jurisdictions that I am aware of, the people who have the most expertise in the workings of these drugs, the equivalents of the veterinarians, ie the medical professionals trained in the appropriate fields, refuse to participate in executions, since it violates their professional oaths. Instead, the state employs people who are, basically, untrained, rank amateurs instead. (It is also a violation of medical professional ethics to teach others to execute people…)

    I mean, midazolam, vecuronium bromide, hydromorphone, etc, these are bog-standard anesthetic drugs. It is not as if the process by which these drugs can be administered to render a person rapidly unconscious in a pain-free manner is something we haven’t known how to do for decades.

  18. Amphiox says

    The atavistic urge for violent vengeance to be inflicted on those who perpetrate violence may, on some level, for some, be emotionally satisfying, but it does not justice make.

  19. ButchKitties says

    These comments come across as happy that these horrible crimes were committed, because it legitimizes and excuses their sadism. As long as the person being tortured is an other, a criminal or a terrorist, then it’s okay. You can enjoy another human being’s suffering while still patting yourself on the back for being a good person, because it’s being done for the benefit of all the “real” people. Or something.

  20. anteprepro says

    It is amazing how amoral the “average” American is. Increasingly so as they dip their toes further into the right-wing authoritarianism pool. They are sadistic and bloodthirsty and so blindly self-righteous that they don’t even realize they are, on virtually every subject, rallying for us to become just as violent and unjust as the violences and injustices that we supposedly oppose. They are blind and hypocritical and turn us all into a nation of blind hypocrites. The kind of nation that hits first and pretends that the opponent was the aggressor. The kind of nation that commits war crimes and yet still pretends we are noble, trustworthy, law-abiding, and moral. The kind of nation with a blatantly racist and broken legal system, with prisons chockfull of people, that will still pat itself on the back for supposedly being the greatest place to live in the world. I wish I could find a way to escape this country. But I fear that, with the size of America’s influence, it would only reduce my influence over it, but not its influence over me. Its politics are global and it poisons everything.

  21. robertfoster says

    There was a death penalty in place at the time Lockett committed his murder. It did not deter him. As I write this someone is most likely being killed somewhere in the USA. Is the killer worrying about being caught? Doubtful.

  22. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @robertfoster, #23:

    That’s not even the issue.

    Is the killer MORE worried about being caught/tried in a death penalty state or in a life-without-parole state?

    That’s the relevant question, and if there’s research on that point showing a significant, valid, and substantial result like that, i haven’t seen it. And I’ve looked a little bit.

  23. loopyj says

    I’m not opposed to execution on a theoretical level, but the death penalty should be repealed in the U.S.

    If you don’t have irrefutable proof of a person’s guilt and you can’t kill them without torturing them, and your justice system is fraught with deeply entrenched bias and influenced by market forces, then you need to not have the death penalty as an option. It costs so much more to go through lengthy appeals and carry out a really f’ed up killing ritual than it is to incarcerate someone for their lifetime.

    I understand the desire for retribution, and most of all I understand the desire that many victim’s families feel that they’d just rather not have to think about the life of the person who murdered their loved one. The man who violently killed my friend in 1998 was executed, and what that meant for me is that I never had to give another moment’s thought to where is was or what he might be doing.

  24. says

    Just change the execution method to old age, aka, top sentence life without parole.

    Fewer people filing appeal after appeal and wasting time just so they don’t get killed, more chances to correct a miscarriage of justice(with fewer “I just don’t want to die” appeals tying things up, these attempts should go quicker and get better results), and even a chance for the rightly convicted to redeem themselves and do some good for the world.

    If you’ve got someone on death row, they are not an imminent threat. You have them contained. Killing them simply isn’t necessary, even if the case was proven to an inhumanly perfect degree.

  25. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Nerd:

    I don’t think that there’s evidence it increases the rate, but yes, I’ve done some reading (though it’s not like this is a field of research or expertise for me or anything – just someone who bothers to actually read good research on issues she cares about) and over and over the best designed studies (that I’ve read) cannot find a prophylactic effect.

  26. says

    Consider:

    Oklahoma is no longer able to obtain the “tried and true” execution drugs. They are now flailing around, trying to find a suitable replacement. They are, for all intents and purposes, conducting pharmaceutical medical experimentation on living humans. Without first obtaining the informed consent of the participants as REQUIRED by state, federal and international law.

    Everyone involved in this botched experiment is in very, VERY serious trouble. I dearly hope that parties with standing file suit.

  27. Trebuchet says

    Paging Dr. Guillotin! Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin to the blood-red courtesy phone!

    Half serious, I am. Certain and quick. Make the governor of the state clean up the mess. Make the legislature watch on TV. Although at least half of them would probably enjoy it.

  28. says

    The governor of Oklahoma, Mary Fallin, helped to set up this botched execution after insisting that the execution go forward after several officials had advised a postponement. The untested drugs were part of the reason that a go-slower schedule was advised.

    In January, with the same secret cocktail of drugs, Oklahoma executed Michael Lee Wilson, convicted of a 1995 murder of a co-worker at a convenience story. Before he died he said, “‘I feel my whole body burning.”

    Governor Fallin and her Republican cronies in the state legislature went even further, they threatened to have judges impeached who had previously declared unconstitutional a new Oklahoma law that basically said that the public, the offenders on death row, and the lawyers had no need or right to know what drugs were being used to carry out the death penalty. The much-pressured justices eventually changed the lower courts decision of unconstitutionality.

    In other words, Governor Fallin and the Republican legislators were so anxious to kill the guy that they ignored expert advice, ignored the principle of transparency in governance, and they also ran roughshod over their own justice system. They did everything wrong. And now Fallin is giving press conferences demanding an investigation. I hope the investigators investigate Gov. Fallin’s part in setting up the conditions that were ripe for failure, that were almost sure to end in torturing a man.

    Daily Kos link.

    […] before the execution went appallingly awry, Fallin was gearing up to provoke a constitutional crisis in her state by ordering Lockett executed in defiance of a Supreme Court stay—originally granted due to concerns about the provenance of the drugs intended to anesthetize and euthanize him.

    New Republic link.

  29. ck says

    Allan Frost wrote:

    What makes it even worse are the 4% of death row inmates that are wrongly convicted.

    Not to be outdone, there are comments on that article:

    What this article failed to point out is that, of the 4% that MAY be innocent, 99% of those put THEMSELVES in a situation where they could be found guilty, based on circumstances.

    I don’t even have the words to describe that…

  30. nancymartin says

    For me being confined for the rest of my life in prison is much worse than execution. As to those who are rejoicing in the suffering of this man ( who did a horrific act), they are no better than he was in that they are able to find circumstances that they condone horrible suffering.

  31. mikeyb says

    I am against the death penalty for many reasons discussed, namely

    (a) the state should not be in the business of killing even murderers
    (b) no evidence that it is a greater deterrent
    (c) risk of and fact that innocent people have been put to death
    (d) death penalty cases are very expensive so life imprisonment may actually less expensive (far less important reason)
    (e) life imprisonment is the greater punishment, since there is no evidence of life after death despite the rantings of Chopra and D’souza, pondering your crimes for life is debatably worse than the death penalty

  32. Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff says

    I once read a book called “The Thin Blue Line”; it was a Canadian book, written by a crime writer, and it was a pangyric to the police — how good they are, how valuable they are, how many scumbags they protect us from. The writer was a right-winger with a hard-case moustache who looked and acted so much like a cop he would often arrive at crime scenes and mix with the cops, unbeknownst to them.

    And he had a (very) short piece on the death penalty.

    Surprise! He was totally against it. My paraphrase, he said, “As someone who has covered the justice system for over 30 years, I am completely opposed to the death penalty. The system is composed of people, human beings, who make too many mistakes, some malicious, many incompetent, others emotional. There is NO WAY that such an imperfect system can have the power of life and death over human beings. It is far too easy for someone, guilty or innocent, to fall through the cracks, to get bad representation, to have cops will perjure themselves to ‘get’ them, or to have the system simply fail.”

    I’m sorry I forget who the author was — it was a Canadian, and has nothing to do with the Errol Morris documentary,.

    But that stuck with me, that even a cop-loving right-winger, because of his exposure to the weaknesses of the system, would be against the death penalty.

  33. twas brillig (stevem) says

    re 24:

    @23’s point was the fallacy of “deterrence” being a justification for the death penalty.

    I too find it a grand Paradox that one hand says killing is bad; while the other hand says, killers deserve to be killed. Why does killing justify killing?
    Currently, I see lots of arguments based on cost/benefit analysis: the usual being; it is cheaper to just kill, than feed and house one for the rest of one’s life. Completely disregarding the legal costs a death-row inmate incurs with appeal after appeal, while ‘lifers’ file very few appeals.

  34. twas brillig (stevem) says

    re

    I once read a book called “The Thin Blue Line”; it was a Canadian book, …

    Wasn’t that also a Rowan Atkinson series on the BBC: The Thin Bllue Line ?
    Nothing to do with the Death Penalty issue, the name just jogged my, …uhhm… ,memory.

  35. alexanderz says

    Crip Dyke:
    This isn’t a study, but it’s a better statistic than the usual “blue states” crimes vs “red states” crime.
    You can compare the murder rate in states that abolished the death penalty (marked in yellow for our convenience) vs states that didn’t and murder rate before and after the year of abolition.
    Since the data is from 1996, the best states to look at are New Jersey, New York and New Mexico. By the looks of it abolishing the death penalty may have reduced slightly the murder rate or had no effect at all, but certainly hasn’t increased it. Regardless, a statistician is needed to say whether these differences are significant. So if you know one get her cracking those number and don’t forget to tell me the results!

  36. caesar says

    So a guy who shot a woman and buried her alive died a brutal death because the prison officials botched the execution? Lets all take a moment of silence for the deceased. Ah fuck that, I’m going out to eat!

  37. says

    frankensteinmonster @10:

    Given that humans are just a particularly sadistic breed of ape, how can sadistic revenge dehumanize us ? It’s just doing as humans do.

    Even *if* we are a “sadistic breed of ape”, we’ve still decided that we are all entitled to the same basic human rights:

    Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

    Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

    Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

    Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

    Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

    Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

    Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

    Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

    For me to expect others to respect my rights, I have to extend the same respect to them. I don’t like to suffer or feel pain. I don’t want others to inflict pain or suffering upon me. I extend the same courtesy to others by condemning torture and capital punishment.

    As for dehumanization, do we all have the same human rights? If so, victims of capital punishment and torture are being treated as less than human. If we don’t all have the same rights, inevitably one group of people (those with the power) will decide that another group (those without power) can be treated in whatever manner they [the former group] choose. Hello slavery, witch trials, and genocide (none of which are in the best interests of the continued survival of our species).

    ****
    Desert Son:

    Actually Lockett is entirely human, and the behavior he was convicted of is, too, and so is the behavior meted out in response. Horrifying . . . and human. Welcome to us. We’re the species that continues to recreate horrific behaviors on scales both individual and grand, in both the crimes we commit and the ways we address the crimes that are committed.

    This^^

    ****

    Inaji:

    Bullshit. Yes, he was a human being. Human beings commit evil acts all the godsdamned time. Othering does not help, nor does basing your judgement on vengeance

    This^^ as well!

  38. Mostly Harmless says

    As for the difficulty in performing an execution, the one thing lab animals and pets have in common is that they’ve not knackered their veins with IV drug abuse as observers report Mr Lockett had. I’ve performed my fair share of cannulations in a hospital setting and still dread having to do one on drug abusers as they’re a nightmare.

    I suspect part of the problem may also be that cannulation is so operator dependent; I imagine it’s very difficult to find e.g. world-class anaesthetists queuing up to get involved in this sordid practice given the great ethical concerns of being involved in executions, I imagine most vets or lab staff wouldn’t want to either…

  39. says

    “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.”
    (Although attributed to Dostoyevsky, he did not actually write this but a person who reviewed House of the Dead did in summarizing it).

    Also, crowing irony here: heroin overdose is one of the most painless ways to die. EMTs have reported that bringing back a person from a heroin overdoes can be dangerous because the addict is usually very angry at having the “high” taken away by the antagonist. TTBOMK it’s the only case of someone punching you for saving their life. The right-wing nuts would not even consider it. Can’t use heroin — that stuff’s illegal.

    That said, I’m still appalled that we have a death penalty. Killing is wrong.

  40. says

    I am not an anaesthesiologist or pharmacologist.

    I’ve been under locals and generals for surgery, and have watched several people die in hazes of fentanyl and morphine (both cancer). I’ve also watched Terry Pratchett’s amazing documentary about death with dignity, which talks about the chemicals used (zoloft, a local anaesthetic to prevent vomiting, and a whacking big dose of phenobarbitol) As well as the Oregon State “death with dignity” pill.

    I hope someone who knows their pharmacology better than I do will chime in and explain how horribly wrong I am, because it sounds to me like the death injections they use are designed to cause horrible non-obvious death agony, NOT a painless and fast death. First they use a mild anaesthetic then a paralytic based on curare which paralyzes the victim and begins to stop respiration. At this point the victim is fully conscious but cannot move or respond; they are immobile but suffocating; the terror must be obliterating them. Only then is the 3rd toxin, which stops the heart, administered. At which point the victim dies.

    A merciful way to kill would be a shot of whisky and some zoloft, then a big whack of phenobarbitol.

    I hope someone says “no Marcus you’re wrong…” But it seems to me as if they have figured out a way of making sure the last few minutes of the victim are as horrible as they can possibly be, without an outside observer being able to tell.

  41. felidae says

    Why don’t they just pull some heroin or fentanyl out of the evidence locker and give the condemned a massive overdose–probably because it would be too pleasurable a death

  42. says

    he isn’t human anyway

    Then neither are the people who think this horrific death was a good thing. (But of course, we know they, in fact, are.)

    People who say things like this are on the road to treating other humans as the criminal and the state did. They may never get there, but in the right situations, the probably will. And never mind what they think the normal “treatment” of non-human beings is.

    And what about people who commit these acts, even so in the name of “justice”? What does this do to a person? What does it do to the people this person interacts with?

    Yes. please, may I have some more war, and more killing? I mean, I know we’re the Good Guys™, but it is what we must do!

  43. Alan Grant says

    Things like Lockett’s execution just go to furthering my belief that right wingers only care about the Bill of Rights when it comes to their guns.

  44. ekwhite says

    A bunch of guys at work started discussing this topic. The first words out of the local right wing assholes mouth was “they ought to execute everyone this way.” I just got up and walked away.

  45. kc9oq says

    If anyone knew the deterrent value of capital punishment it was Albert Pierrepoint, the prodigious hangman of mid 20th Century Britain. In his words:

    “It is said to be a deterrent. I cannot agree. There have been murders since the beginning of time, and we shall go on looking for deterrents until the end of time. If death were a deterrent, I might be expected to know. It is I who have faced them last, young men and girls, working men, grandmothers. I have been amazed to see the courage with which they take that walk into the unknown. It did not deter them then, and it had not deterred them when they committed what they were convicted for. All the men and women whom I have faced at that final moment convince me that in what I have done I have not prevented a single murder.”

  46. Endorkened says

    Hell, if you’re going to kill a human being, if you think that’s right or makes it better somehow, why go through all this strange ritual with the randomized vials and the mystery drugs? If you’re prepared to sentence an actual living person to death, is it that important for you to pretend you aren’t responsible? That this is a civilized act and makes you not a killer?
    I’m not even a hundred percent against the death penalty–if you’ve got a confessed, unrepentant multiple killer on your hands, and they’re so messed up that modern psychiatric medicine can’t possibly help them, it might be the kindest thing to do for them. But I’ve never seen it used that way and I probably never will. It’s not a medical procedure, not about ending human suffering–we just dress it up so we can pretend it is.
    If you make that kind of decision, you should have to shoot the poor guy. Once. Back of the head with something high-caliber and tissue-disrupting. Sever his brain stem, end it quickly and take god damn responsibility for it. And now fuck me, I’m actually crying and I’m not sure why.

  47. ekwhite says

    Amphiox @18:

    Vecuronium bromide is not an anesthetic. It is a paralyzing agent. It was used to stop breathing.

  48. mnb0 says

    And if the death sentence is applied in a human way it is not harsh enough imo. I rather have the culprit contemplating his regret for a good long time. I know what I’m talking about; my father was brutally murdered by someone we knew and my son found the body. My first emotional reaction was “shoot him through the knees”, not the death penalty.

  49. joubert says

    F (45): To my pleasant surprise, there is actually a slow, but steady trickle of stories from people who have both witnessed and carried out executions of the so-called “worst of the worst”, sometimes for years, lustra, which reveal that, far from the self-righteous sadistic bloodlust of the armchair revenge-fantisiser, executing people does have an appreciably negative affect on their mental well-being, and no, they don’t magically begin feeling better about killing a person by contemplating the crimes they’ve committed. To scream “think of the victim!” and “she suffered more!”, while valid, betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the reasoning behind our repulsion. I am perfectly capable of feeling deep anguish for the victim, imagining her final terrifyed moments buried alive as she struggled for life, not sympathising at all with Lockett who, by all accounts I’ve been able to find, demonstrated no contrition for his actions (although this aspect of the case has gotten little publicity, so I could be wrong), yet be viscerally appalled at his state-sanctioned torture. My disgust doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten what he did or feel sorry for him. I’m guessing that, since right-wingers’ justifications for capital punishment have more to do with emotions than logic (as do, I’m guessing, the sort of people who say things like “usually I’m against the death penalty, but not this time”), they’ve never touched Albert Camus, who stressed that his opposition was not, not, not, not the result of sympathy for criminals or a tacit endorsement of their actions.

    On a more general note, I am immensely glad to have found this post and its comments. After a day of continuously encountering Internet savagery such as has been outlined above, it’s nice to know that, as grim as the situation might seem, there are many people who understand my seemingly unpopular point of view.

  50. Alverant says

    Murders only think about the death penalty after they’ve committed the crime. Either the murder wasn’t planned or they thought they could get away with it. I don’t believe it does anything to prevent people from committing crimes. That doesn’t even include the faults in our “justice” system. Rehabilitation is only given lip service in prisons, especially private prisons. It’s like if you make one mistake, society gives up on you. Let’s remember that not all mistakes are equal. Stealing a car or smoking a joint getting into a drunken fight at a bar are all crimes that can get you thrown in prison where the attitude is “you deserve what you get” just like if they committed rape or murder. Not surprisingly stealing millions from people if you can say “it’s just business” is more likely to get you a pat on the back by “tough on crime” conservatives than prison time.

  51. carlie says

    It’s been years and years since I first started reading concerns that the three drug sequence was often administered improperly, rendering victims paralyzed but still able to feel pain. The people who are being upset about this case give off a huge vibe of “I’m SHOCKED to find gambling going on in this establishment” dissembling going on. The only reason this one made the news is that it was so obvious. They have no “but we didn’t realize killing people hurt them” excuses to stand behind. The whole thing is despicable.

  52. says

    It’s been years and years since I first started reading concerns that the three drug sequence was often administered improperly, rendering victims paralyzed but still able to feel pain

    The mix and sequence they are using appears to me to be designed to keep the victim aware while they are dying. It may be painless but they are conscious, suffocating, then feel their heart stop.

    If the intent was a quick death it would be an anti-anxiety drug, nitrous oxide and oxygen to knock them out, then a big dose of barbituate.

  53. Alverant says

    #49
    Thank you for posting that. I have similar thoughts. I agree there are people out there who have committed crimes so heinous and are so psychologically damaged that they can’t be helped. We put down animals who have attacked humans or carry diseases like rabies. Those are easy to justify. But then you have the creep where today a cop can feel justified in killing a family pet for fun because it barked at them (no that is NOT hyperbole, this happened in Louisiana recently). I don’t see a way to keep that same creep from applying the death penalty to people.

    The death penalty is too ingrained in politics to expect people to think and act rationally. How many cases was there legitimate doubt, a forced confession that may or may not be true, misconduct on the part of the prosecutor or judge, undiscovered evidence, bad eye witness testimony, bias on the part of the jury, or too many other ways an innocent person can be convicted or a guilty person given too harsh a sentence?

    I was on the treadmill so I’m a bit tired to weep. I just feel some disappointment for humanity.

  54. plainenglish says

    The punishment paradigm carries on Gawd’s work of judgement on the wicked. Until we can turn from the word of gawd and understand the utter ignorance of punishment, we will continue to do his will in the world, one drug at a time till death, amen. I do not know the answer to horrible asshole bastards who kill innocents but I know that simply knocking them off does not inform us in any beneficial way. I suspect that those who can harm another with such utter abandon have been most seriously harmed in their early lives, probably before they were good at walking on their own. Is it possible to reclaim our lives after we have been so harmed early on? That is another thread. As carlie says very plainly and clearly, The whole thing is despicable.

  55. Furr-a-Bruin says

    Endorkened @49: Interesting idea; if Gov. Fallin wants these guys dead so bad, let HER pull the trigger, personally. One gun, one bullet – absolutely no question that SHE is directly and personally responsible. No barriers – she might actually get blood on her. I’d also force the entire state legislature to watch live – if even one is absent without good cause, the execution cannot proceed. I’d have them all wired to devices that measure sexual stimulation and any who show any at the execution would be forced to resign immediately.

  56. says

    Nerd#26
    Correlation does not equal causation. I strongly suspect that underlying cultural factors holding that lethal violence is a valid problem-solving strategy lead to both increased murder rates and favoring the death penalty.

  57. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Nerd#26
    Correlation does not equal causation. I strongly suspect that underlying cultural factors holding that lethal violence is a valid problem-solving strategy lead to both increased murder rates and favoring the death penalty.

    The big cultural factor I see is called the babble belt….

  58. Muz says

    Aside from all the other reasons, the death penalty should be anathema to a legally obsessed nation constructed on the limitation of state power. It should be right up there with habeus corpus really (no pun intended). That of course ties into the most logical and dispassionate reason capital punishment should not be a thing: any system of such power and machinations as the law will make mistakes. It’s just a question of when. That it is also subject to the potential blindness and corruption of the state ought to seal the deal really, and have done so hundreds of years ago. Yet it is usually conservative leaning folks who are the greatest supporters, as far as I can tell. I wonder if they’re aware of the irony.

  59. scourge99 says

    Its the ol’ “the exception that proves the rule” argument. And its dumb. There are plenty of good reasons and arguments against capital punishment but PZ uses a bad one.

    So why does it seem like there are so many “botched” examples? They seem pretty rare. Buts its also probably because executions that occur without problem aren’t news worthy. Just like abortions doctors who aren’t doing anything illegal. Only the bad one’s make the news which gives people the impression of some endemic problem when there is none. Especially those people with a bias.

  60. anteprepro says

    scourge99: How many botched executions do you think there are, how many do you think we think there are, and how many would there need to be in order for it to be taken seriously?

  61. rorschach says

    Oklahoma decided to lethally inject Lockett and Warner with midazolam, which acts as a sedative and is also used as an anti-seizure drug, followed by vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride.

    I didn’t know this. That makes the whole event even worse. Midazolam is not actually an anaesthetic, it’s a hypnotic with strong amnesic effect, it has no painkilling properties, it’s shortacting, and if you have a procedure done with it, you wake up and think it was painless mainly because you don’t remember.

    I use it to put shoulders back in or to do cardioversions, it causes a few minutes of slumber, but that’s about it, then the patient wakes up. And this guy woke up to find himself partially paralysed with a longacting muscle relaxant that had not been injected into a vein and therefore kept having an effect for much longer than usual.

    So in summation, they used a weak hypnotic that would have made the guy sleepy for maybe 5 minutes, then paralysed him, which would have made him felt like he was drowning or in superheavy gravity hardly able to breathe for >30 minutes, then extravasated KCL into his arm which would have been extremely painful, until he finally had too much stress and died of a heart attack.

    That’s what you would do to inflict a maximum of pain and distress. Torture.

  62. says

    There is some information on curare here:
    http://everything2.com/title/Curare

    Apparently it was used a few times as a surgical anaesthetic and doctors had it explained to them by patients afterward that they were conscious and felt everything during the procedure – they just could not move. Its use as an anaesthetic by itself was discontinued after a doctor tried it (with supplemental oxygen to keep him alive) – there is a rather scary description of the experience on the link above.

    So it sounds like the state approved means of killing is worse than most of us imagine: the victim is paralyzed so that they have no way of communicating their distress, then their heart is stopped with the next injection and they are conscious and aware of the entire fucking experience. This is not merely “cruel and unusual” punishment. It is vicious and sadistic. It’s like something Harlan Ellison would cook up in fiction.

    If there are any anaesthesiologists or pharmacologists who can weigh in on the experience one would expect from that sequence of drugs, please, tell me I am completely wrong about this. I want to be.

  63. ekwhite says

    Rorschach @66 and Marcus Ranum @67

    In January 2013, I collapsed from congestive heart failure and was rushed to the hospital. As part of my treatment I was apparently given an anesthetic and Vecuronium bromide. While I was in the emergency room, I regained consciousness. I was unable to feel my body, to open my eyelids or to move a muscle, but I was aware and could hear what was going on around me. This was the most terrifying thing I have ever experienced. It was sheer mental torture even though I could not feel pain. I distinctly remember a female voice saying that my lungs were full of fluid and that I was drowning, but it was not the fear of death that terrified me – it was the feeling of being a disembodied consciousness in the dark.

    Take my terror, add physical pain, and the knowledge that instead of trying to save your life, the people around you were trying to kill you. I can’t even comprehend the level of torture that Clayton Lockett underwent before he died. This WAS essentially burying him alive.

  64. says

    caesar:

    So a guy who shot a woman and buried her alive died a brutal death because the prison officials botched the execution? Lets all take a moment of silence for the deceased. Ah fuck that, I’m going out to eat

    Ah, it’s that good old fashioned libertarian concern for human rights.
    Who here is advocating a “moment of silence” for Lockett? People are condemning the barbaric practice of capital punishment that masquerades as justice. Learn to read for comprehension.

  65. says

    @ekwhite
    Take my terror, add physical pain

    I have a friend who has experienced cardiac arrest and says it is insanely painful and distressing. If I understand correctly the way the lethal injection cocktail is intelligently designed to work, it allows the victim to experience – fully – every bit of their heart stoppage and death.

    I don’t have the media contacts that I used to but I’m reaching out to see if I can get anyone from the press with a bully pulpit to start opening this issue for questioning. If I am right about this, we are seeing the tip of an iceberg of concealed, deliberate torture-killing.

  66. scourge99 says

    @anteprepro

    Every botched execution should be taken seriously. Every unethical abortion doctor like Kermit Gosnell should be taken seriously. And every shooting should be taken seriously. But just because these occurrences happen doesn’t somehow make a cogent argument for claiming executions, abortions, or guns should be banned.

  67. ck says

    @scourge99,
    Given the fact that the subjects of lethal injection are no longer able to testify to the quality of service they received, I’m thinking that it’s probably impossible to say if it’s common or not.

  68. says

    Rorschach @66, Marcus Ranum @67:
    Thank you both for the information.
    Fuuuuck.

    Both your comments hit like a freight train. The fucking hypocrisy of the Democrats and Republicans is astounding.
    “America is the greatest country in the world. Land of the free and home of the brave. We’re the leader of the free world. America is exceptional bc Gawd!” -US politicians

    “No country with state sponsored rape* or torture can be considered great” -Me

    *mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds for women seeking an abortion

  69. Amphiox says

    Vecuronium bromide is not an anesthetic. It is a paralyzing agent. It was used to stop breathing.

    Paralyzing agents are part of the standard cocktail for general anesthesia, though not necessarily used in every single case. But anesthetists administer this family of drugs routinely.

    I said “anesthetic drug”, and that does not just mean anesthetics, it means all drugs commonly used in the general anesthesia. Midazolam isn’t an anesthetic either, but it too is a common part of the general anesthesia cocktail.

  70. Amphiox says

    So a guy who shot a woman and buried her alive died a brutal death because the prison officials botched the execution? Lets all take a moment of silence for the deceased. Ah fuck that, I’m going out to eat

    As usual, caesar, you miss the point.

    When one excuses, ignores, justifies, or celebrates the brutal death of another human being, that action says jack diddly squat about the person who suffered the brutal death. We shall judge that person on his or her life, not his or her death, and that judgment is to be made at another time.

    But what it DOES tell us is a great deal about you, the one who excuses, ignores, justifies or celebrates brutal death.

  71. says

    scourge99:

    Every botched execution should be taken seriously. Every unethical abortion doctor like Kermit Gosnell should be taken seriously. And every shooting should be taken seriously. But just because these occurrences happen doesn’t somehow make a cogent argument for claiming executions, abortions, or guns should be banned

    Capital Punishment.
    the Reproductive Rights of Women
    Gun Violence

    One of these things is not like the other 2.
    As this thread is not about abortion or gun violence, I won’t comment on them any further. Capital punishment, OTOH…

    Capital Punishment *should* be banned:

    The U.S.’s capital punishment process:
    (1) is fraught with error;

    (2) discriminates on the basis of socioeconomic status, race, and geography;

    (3) is arbitrary and capricious, including its use against the mentally ill and defendants who did not kill anyone and did not intend that anyone be killed;

    (4) costs taxpayers far more than life imprisonment without release;

    (5) does nothing to protect people from crime;

    (6) seriously harms the survivors of homicide victims;

    (7) is plagued by cheap legal representation – the worst, not the best, of American lawyering; and

    (8) greatly diminishes the worldwide stature of the United States and its ability to work to end human rights violations in other countries.

    Are *these* sufficient reasons to ban capital punishment in your opinion?

  72. Amphiox says

    But just because these occurrences happen doesn’t somehow make a cogent argument for claiming executions, abortions, or guns should be banned.

    Not EVERY instance of a botched execution is itself a cogent argument against executions. Botched executions in general do not necessarily make a cogent argument against executions.

    But THIS PARTICULAR botched execution and the circumstances surrounding it? The unavailability of the established drug used for executions precisely because the European company that manufactures it has decided to refuse to sell it in the United States precisely because of how the US uses it for executions? And the use of an untested, untried cocktail experimentally in part as an attempt to find an alternative to that established drug which will soon no longer be available?

    Yes these are VERY cogent arguments against capital punishment.

  73. rorschach says

    I just can’t imagine who came up with the idea of using Midazolam in this setting, when you’re trying to kill someone. Barbiturates/tranquilisers or Propofol put you into not just sleep but unconsciousness, and the effect will still be there when the paralysing agent kicks in, and the potassium that stops the heart.

    They can manage it in dogs, ffs. Using Midazolam for executions is completely fucked up.

  74. atheistblog says

    I bet all those commenter are hardcore jebus masturbating conservative christians. Who else would be fanatically mad about mythical character but also relish in vengeance. And BTW please don’t tell me that jebus said that jebus said this, my check your check BS, like until this mythical character called jebus told you to show compassion no one in the world know what is compassion or in east, unknown west/america no one has any idea of compassion, or buddha has no frigging clue what jebus is about to tell this world.
    Stop masturbating about jebus people.

  75. ekwhite says

    Rorshach, I imagine that part of the problem is that the manufacturers of Propofol and the barbituates / tranquilizers want to have nothing to do with this horror show.

  76. rorschach says

    I imagine that part of the problem is that the manufacturers of Propofol and the barbituates / tranquilizers want to have nothing to do with this horror show.

    Yes, sure. And I used to think that was a good thing. But if it means that US states will engage in a race to the bottom until they have to use chamomile tea for sedation, because they’d rather do that then stop executing people, then maybe the manufacturers should rethink.

  77. Amphiox says

    Rorshach:

    I just can’t imagine who came up with the idea of using Midazolam in this setting, when you’re trying to kill someone. Barbiturates/tranquilisers or Propofol put you into not just sleep but unconsciousness, and the effect will still be there when the paralysing agent kicks in, and the potassium that stops the heart.

    ekwhite:

    Rorshach, I imagine that part of the problem is that the manufacturers of Propofol and the barbituates / tranquilizers want to have nothing to do with this horror show.

    This is exactly the case here. The standard barbituate used in lethal injections was, I believe, pentobarbitol, and the European manufacturer has stopped selling it in the United States precisely because they do not want their drug used to kill people (perhaps among other reasons). And the manufacturers of propofol and the like I suspect have long ago already established their refusal to sell their product for this purpose.

    Hence these f*cked up experiments at trying to use unsuitable drugs to replace the barbituate.

    Consider this midazolam/vecuronium combo. Vecuronium will paralyze the victim, leaving him or her in a state where he or she is unable to breathe but fully conscious, suffocating the whole time until the KCl stops the heart. The midazolam is supposed to sedate the victim, but there is nothing about that drug to suggest that it will reliably render a person unconscious. Even if it appears to work, it could easily be a situation of simply keeping the victim quiet so it LOOKS like there is a peaceful death, when in fact the victim is paralyzed but conscious through the whole ordeal.

    This is pure barbarism. A guillotine WOULD be more humane….

  78. Amphiox says

    But if it means that US states will engage in a race to the bottom until they have to use chamomile tea for sedation, because they’d rather do that then stop executing people, then maybe the manufacturers should rethink.

    “Rethinking” means acquiescing to enabling the United States to continue executions. The manufacturers are not required to be any nation’s morality chain.

    If the US sinks to that level of depravity in the usage of inappropriate and ineffective sedation for lethal injection, that is on the US, not on the drug manufacturers. But I suspect the firing squad will return before they get to that kind of extreme with pharmaceutical execution.

  79. Moggie says

    Lynna:

    […] before the execution went appallingly awry, Fallin was gearing up to provoke a constitutional crisis in her state by ordering Lockett executed in defiance of a Supreme Court stay—originally granted due to concerns about the provenance of the drugs intended to anesthetize and euthanize him.

    I don’t think a governor should be above the law. If the court orders you not to execute a prisoner (yet), and you go ahead and have him killed anyway, how is that not murder?

  80. militantagnostic says

    Several years ago I heard an interview with the department store security guard who captured serial killer Charles Ng when the latter shoplifted camping supplies. Ng had a sister who lived in Calgary which was why he had fled to Calgary and hid in the bush in Fish Creek Park after his partner had killed himself after being arrested for shoplifting. The security guard was shot in hand and was struggling to prevent Ng from getting off a second shot when the police arrived. There was a lot of controversy over extraditing Ng since he faced the death penalty in California. The security guard said he had a recurring nightmare in which he was about to shoot Ng with a rifle while Ng’s sister pleaded with him to not fire.

    @Caesar – your comment indicates you have more in common with Lockett than with the woman he killed.

    In Canada we have had 5 high profile wrongful murder convictions overturned (Donald Marshall, Guy Paul Morin, David Millgard, and Stephen Truscott) Truscott was sentenced to death, but the sentences was commuted – the other 3 were convicted after the death penalty was abolished.

    Of them, only Donald Marshall could be said to have put himself in a position where he could be wrongfully convicted. The friend he was accused of killing was killed by a drunk that he and his friend were rolling.

    By the time a prisoner is executed America, there is about a 50% probability that the lawyer that represented him at the initial trial has been disbarred.

    @Rorschach

    I just can’t imagine who came up with the idea of using Midazolam in this setting, when you’re trying to kill someone.

    I can imagine who – some RWA sadist. I think Marcus may be right.

    They can manage it in dogs, ffs

    .

    At one time (perhaps it is still the case) the procedure used for executions Texas was one that the was prohibited by Texas Veterinarian’s professional association.

  81. mirrorfield says

    Few opinions:

    *Certain anti-Death Penalty activists have taken it as their life’s mission to stop executions by legally forcing botches like this via eg. pressuring European drug manufacturers. In my opinion this is cynical politicking of the worst sort, but “progressives” tend to be firmly of the opinion that the ends justify the means.

    *What happened here was a botch. Things must be investigated, lessons learned and measures taken to avoid problems like this in the future. Note that there was a “double feature” planned and the later one was postponed until reasons for the botch have been sorted out.

    *Execution is not, per se cruel and unusual punishment mentioned in eight amendment of US Constitution. Said amendment was intended to stop fun things like Drawing and Quartering which were featured in many legal systems of the time.

    *IMHO US should return to the old, proven, simple, fast and “painless enough” method of long-drop hanging. And since this method was used and accepted at the time US of A was founded, any Eight Amendment claims about “cruel and usual” are moot.

    *My problems with Saudi-Arabian death penalty are not related to the methodology itself, but on the abysmal legal system, corrupt judiciary and the fact that they have several items (eg. apostasy) on the local list of capital crimes that simply don’t belong there. Unlike, eg. crimes our botch victim was duly convicted of without reasonable doubts.

    *Death Penalty is the ultimate punishment. It should be meted out for a very short list of worst crimes it is possible to commit. It enjoys large amount of popular support even in liberal Europe, where “progressive” politicians have resorted to all sorts of legislative and diplomatic tricks to prevent popular will from restoring it. I do not believe those measures will last forever.

  82. rorschach says

    It enjoys large amount of popular support even in liberal Europe

    I’d really like to see a citation for that. Like, really. The rest of your comment I’m just tempted to dismiss as typical USian barbarism. Let me guess, you own a firearm and go to church on Sunday, right, mirrorfield?

  83. mirrorfield says

    @88: Ask, and ye shall receive:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2023306/More-half-Britons-want-return-death-penalty-reveals-shock-poll.html

    Also, all three of your guesses were wrong: I am not american, I do not own a firearm (haven’t bothered getting one) and last time I went to church was last christmas simply in order to keep decorum with my parents on a family occasion.

    Our blog host advertises himself as “godless liberal”. I am a “godless conservative”.

  84. rorschach says

    @89,

    Britain is not “liberal Europe” by any stretch of the imagination unless you live in the US, Iran, Saudi-Arabia or Russia, and the Daily Mail is not a source for scientific evidence, or any reliable information for that matter. So no sorry, I’m going to dismiss that ridiculous newspaper poll you quote as bullshit.

  85. Badland says

    Oh christ. The Daily Fail?

    Interesting that you say Britain is Liberal Europe. Deep thinker, you are

  86. says

    I’m surprised that tin-eared talking asshole from the NRA hasn’t popped up and suggested that this is a good use for firearms…

  87. mirrorfield says

    @92: Daily Mail article was first in google, but there are other articles on subject. Google is your friend.

    Also, Britain not part of “liberal europe”. Apparently No True Scotsman would support this “barbarity” either, am I right?

  88. Derek Vandivere says

    @90 / @91: Moving those goalposts again, hm? Pretty clear that mirrorfield was using ‘liberal’ to describe Europe overall as compared to the US, and not as a subsection of Europe. Most stuff I’ve read about the death penalty mentions that it generally has a lot of popular support.

    But fine, try this: 42% of the Dutch think the death penalty should be reinstated, and it’s not been done here since 1870: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doodstraf_in_Nederland#Huidig_standpunt

    For some reason, the link to the newspaper article (reference 8 in the article) keeps crashing my (old corporate) browser – should be okay for most of you, although you’ll want to run it through Translate.

    Mirrorfield, I think you’re wrong in terms of the death penalty constituting cruel and unusual punishment. It certainly wasn’t considered to be so at the time of writing, but ethics change over the course of 230-odd years. And you should really read up a bit on what happens with public defenders and typical death penalty cases in the US; even if you argue that in this particular case the guy was well-represented and had a fair trail, these cases are usually complete shitshows.

    It’s obvious to me that capital punishment is just plain wrong; but if it’s going to be policy it’s vitally important to execute it in the most fair and humane way possible. The US is currently failing abysmally at both.

  89. jefrir says

    mirrorfield,

    *Execution is not, per se cruel and unusual punishment mentioned in eight amendment of US Constitution. Said amendment was intended to stop fun things like Drawing and Quartering which were featured in many legal systems of the time.

    *IMHO US should return to the old, proven, simple, fast and “painless enough” method of long-drop hanging. And since this method was used and accepted at the time US of A was founded, any Eight Amendment claims about “cruel and usual” are moot.

    Having to resort to legal nitpicking about 18th century standards is really not helping your case.

    *My problems with Saudi-Arabian death penalty are not related to the methodology itself, but on the abysmal legal system, corrupt judiciary and the fact that they have several items (eg. apostasy) on the local list of capital crimes that simply don’t belong there. Unlike, eg. crimes our botch victim was duly convicted of without reasonable doubts.

    The US legal system is not exactly perfect. There heve been many cases of innocent people ending up on death row, and there is strong evidence of racial bias. Hell, this is country with elected judges for fuck’s sake.

    *Death Penalty is the ultimate punishment. It should be meted out for a very short list of worst crimes it is possible to commit. It enjoys large amount of popular support even in liberal Europe, where “progressive” politicians have resorted to all sorts of legislative and diplomatic tricks to prevent popular will from restoring it. I do not believe those measures will last forever.

    Even if this is true, the fact that most people support barbarism does not make that barbarism okay. Most people support sexism, racism and homophobia, too, but that does not mean those things are acceptable or should be made into law.

  90. zenlike says

    87 mirrorfield

    *Certain anti-Death Penalty activists have taken it as their life’s mission to stop executions by legally forcing botches like this via eg. pressuring European drug manufacturers. In my opinion this is cynical politicking of the worst sort, but “progressives” tend to be firmly of the opinion that the ends justify the means.

    So it’s not the fault of the execution-happy politicians and populace of the united states, but it is actually the fault of the anti-dead-penalty crowd? Fuck you, asshole.

    *Execution is not, per se cruel and unusual punishment mentioned in eight amendment of US Constitution. Said amendment was intended to stop fun things like Drawing and Quartering which were featured in many legal systems of the time.

    “Drawing and quartering is worse, therefore dead penalty in a more humane way is not cruel and unusual.” What?

    *IMHO US should return to the old, proven, simple, fast and “painless enough” method of long-drop hanging. And since this method was used and accepted at the time US of A was founded, any Eight Amendment claims about “cruel and usual” are moot.

    “If it was acceptable in the 18th century, it should be acceptable now.” What?

    *My problems with Saudi-Arabian death penalty are not related to the methodology itself, but on the abysmal legal system, corrupt judiciary

    Small hint: actually do some work and read about the legal system in the USA. Then come back to us and explain why that legal system is capable of doling out an irreversible sentence eg the deathpenalty.

    It enjoys large amount of popular support even in liberal Europe

    And your support for this is a poll only containing data from the UK. small hint: the UK is not representative for the entirety of Europe. Most political parties in the UK are further to the right then their continental counterparts, which should say something to you.

    Also, Britain not part of “liberal europe”. Apparently No True Scotsman would support this “barbarity” either, am I right?

    This has nothing to do with ‘no true Scotsman”, but everything to do with a non-representative sample. The only thing you have proven is that the much more right-leaning populace of the UK is pro-death penalty. You have not proven anything about the rest of Europe.

  91. Derek Vandivere says

    @Zenlike / 96: 42% of the Dutch support the death penalty too.

    Found an English source: 42% of French and 29% of Finns support the death penalty.

  92. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    The European Union holds a strong and principled position against the death penalty; its abolition is a key objective for the Union’s human rights policy. Abolition is, of course, also a pre-condition for entry into the Union.

    source

  93. says

    Don’t know if anyone caught this already, but Pierce addressed why these executions are difficult in his piece:

    You see, some of our finer pharmaceutical companies have begun to balk at providing the means to kill people, seeing that as somewhat contrary to their life’s mission. In response, states wishing to kill people have begun to scramble to find the means to do so. Pity the poor executioners. They know not what to do.

    If that’s at all true, then it would seem that the problem, essentially, is that those with the drugs do not wish to associate themselves with the barbarians (as Pierce called them).

  94. Derek Vandivere says

    @Beatrice / 98: True, but the point is that *public* support is surprisingly high.

  95. nich says

    Derek@100:

    @Beatrice / 98: True, but the point is that *public* support is surprisingly high.

    How were these polls worded and what was meant by support? Are we talking support as in “I’m not generally opposed to executing the worst of the worst” or are we talking support as in “I strongly believe my government should reverse laws banning capital punishment”? I think even here at Pharyngula most would say they are anti-death penalty not out of some bleeding heart love for rape killers, but out of recognition that the American justice system can be a total shit show.

    mirrorfield@some comment further up:

    Our blog host advertises himself as “godless liberal”. I am a “godless conservative”.

    It’s funny how conservatives claim government is too incompetent to say, regulate land use or provide health care, but is totally competent when it comes to applying the fucking death penalty.

  96. zenlike says

    97 Derek Vandivere

    @Zenlike / 96: 42% of the Dutch support the death penalty too.

    Found an English source: 42% of French and 29% of Finns support the death penalty.

    What overwhelming majorities.

  97. zenlike says

    For those who lack comprehensive reading skills, this is mirrorfield @87:

    It enjoys large amount of popular support even in liberal Europe, where “progressive” politicians have resorted to all sorts of legislative and diplomatic tricks to prevent popular will from restoring it. I do not believe those measures will last forever.

    Somehow trying to imply that the ban an death penalties is despite a majority being for, it still is in effect because of those darn politicians going against popular will.

    This is then countered by Derek citing such overwhelming support figures of 29% in for example Finland.

    Damn those Finnish politicians, clearly going against the will of less than one thirds of their populace!

  98. says

    Minor point in the grand scheme of things, but this pinged my BS-dar:

    *IMHO US should return to the old, proven, simple, fast and “painless enough” method of long-drop hanging. And since this method was used and accepted at the time US of A was founded, any Eight Amendment claims about “cruel and usual” are moot.

    We’re supposed to listen to the opinions of someone who can’t so much as Google “long-drop hanging” because why?

    “Long-drop” isn’t an adjective randomly tacked on to the method “hanging” in order to sound fancier or more official. It’s a specific type of hanging, different from suspension, short-drop, and standard-drop hangings. The earliest uses of a hanging drop of longer than 2 feet seem to date from Ireland in the 1850s; the actual development of a specific “long-drop” system (in which rope lengths are customized depending on the prisoner’s weight) didn’t happen until the 1860s. Last time I checked, the U.S. was more or less “founded” in 1776 and our Constitution was adopted in 1787.

    In addition, hanging can be botched just as easily as any other method. In a long-drop hanging, the rope length has to be calibrated to the proper weight of the prisoner, and it can still go wrong if the prisoner is too light to provide enough downward momentum, or has strong neck muscles, or if the rope is improperly placed or the wrong diameter, etc. If the rope is too long, the prisoner can be decapitated. If the rope is too short or the prisoner’s weight is insufficient, or the rope is placed in the wrong spot, or any of a number of other deviations from the rather specific calculations required in the long-drop system, the prisoner’s neck will not break and the long-drop hanging effectively functions the same as a short-drop hanging, which is a nasty and painful form of death by slow strangulation.

    (The above information brought to you courtesy of deathpenaltycurriculum.org, capitalpunishmentuk.org, the fucking “Hanging” article on Wikipedia how technologically illiterate is this twerp anyway, and my never-entirely-ended Goth phase.)

  99. Nick Gotts says

    mirrorfield@87,

    *Certain anti-Death Penalty activists have taken it as their life’s mission to stop executions by legally forcing botches like this via eg. pressuring European drug manufacturers. In my opinion this is cynical politicking of the worst sort, but “progressives” tend to be firmly of the opinion that the ends justify the means.

    No-one forced the state of Oklahoma to subject condemned prisoners to ghoulish experiments, liar. All it had to do to avoid what happened was to halt executions. And do you have even a scintilla of evidence that “forcing botches like this” was the purpose of pressurising European drug manufacturers?

    Note that there was a “double feature” planned

    The fact that you refer to two executions as a “double feature” – a term from the entertainment industry – tells us all we need to know about you.

  100. jtothag says

    I have to feel a little sorry for an individual who through no fault of his own, developed a brain that was less empathic and more prone to anger and impulse than my own and grew up in a society that was more focused on torturing people to death rather than funding research to identify those suffering from psychopathy and at the very least, keep them from harming others.

  101. Derek Vandivere says

    @101 / Nich: Really no idea how specific the poll was. I’ll try to look it up on Trouw (the Dutch newspaper site). Ah, it comes up on the tablet. Quick and dirty translation: For crimes like murder, rape, and terrorism, the death penalty must be reinstated. This was in the context of a few right-wing politicians who were getting popular and who wanted to reinstate it.

    Personally, I’m against the death penalty both on conceptual grounds (I think it’s incredibly dangerous for the state to claim the right to murder its citizens, and I don’t think the death penalty is effective anyway) and on practical ones (it’s impossible to implement capital punishment fairly in a country where defense lawyers get paid; it’s demonstrably racist in its implementation).

    @102 / Zenlike: Now you’re on a different playing field altogether. The point is and has been that there is surprisingly strong public support for capital punishment, not a majority. To me, 30% of Finns – a country that’s very progressive in how it treats criminals – supporting the death penalty when it’s been outlawed for so long is surprisingly high.

    His point that those attitudes generally aren’t matched in government rings true here, too. The Tweede Kamer (that’s our equivalent of the House) reacted in universal horror to that survey (it was 42% of the Dutch who were in favor).

  102. frankensteinmonster says

    Even *if* we are a “sadistic breed of ape”, we’ve still decided that we are all entitled to the same basic human rights

    Well. “Universal” human rights. Invented by enlightened few, imposed over many, and resented by anyone else, who just can’t wrap their minds around the idea that the people they don’t like should have any rights at all.

  103. Alverant says

    Derek@100:
    If 42% is a high amount of support then the 58% of people who oppose it is an even higher amount. All your claims about “a high amount of support” fail in light that more people are against it. Also it’s not moving goalposts by discounting a newspaper poll a discredited source.

  104. Derek Vandivere says

    @110 / Alverant: He originally stated “enjoys large amount of popular support even in liberal Europe”. Apparently, the UK doesn’t count as part of Europe, or maybe people think there’s an official Liberal Europe. Goal post move #1. I posted the surprisingly high Dutch numbers. Someone else posted EU regulations for member states. #2. Someone else posted that it’s not a majority. #3. You just reposted that it’s not a majority. #4.

    If you don’t think 42% is a surprisingly high number in a country that hasn’t had an execution since the 1870s, was the first country on the planet to legalize same-sex marriage, that’s had universal health care at least since ’94 when I came here, and where sex workers have their own union and political party, what would you call a surprisingly high number?

    Again: I’m against the death penalty, but there’s definitely a mismatch between how much popular support it has and how taboo it is as governmental policy here in Europe. Mirrorfield is wrong in the big picture, but he’s right about the level of support.

  105. says

    militantagnostic mentioned the Steven Truscott case. When Truscott was convicted of murder in 1959 he was 14 years old, and sentenced to death by hanging. Fortunately his sentenced was commuted to life imprisonment in 1960. It would take more than 45 years before he was acquitted, although he was believed innocent for decades before that by many familiar with the case.

    The death penalty was abolished in Canada in 1976, at which time it only applied to the murder of police officers. The per capita murder rate continued to decline after that point. In 2010 it reached its lowest point since the mid-60s, after 3 and a half decades of no capital punishment.

  106. militantagnostic says

    @122

    The death penalty had been ended in Canada in practice by the Cabinet automatically commuting all death sentences, about a decade before it was officially abolished.

  107. Dunc says

    I’ll reconsider my absolute opposition to the death penalty just as soon as we have a perfect justice system, administered by infallible and incorruptible sages, within the context of a just society which is utterly devoid of prejudice.

    Nobody ever sets out to devise a system which predominantly executes the disadvantaged – the poor, racial minorities, and those with mental health issues or learning difficulties- but that is always, without fail, how it turns out. Everybody always thinks they’re creating a system in which only people who definitely did commit truly heinous crimes will ever be executed, but it always gets out of control.

    The case of Derek Bently in 1952 is instructive here. He had severe problems of mental health and development, was illiterate, and was judged mentally unfit for national service. Absolutely nobody ever alleged that he fired the shot which killed PC Sidney Miles – he was hanged simply because, when PC Miles told his 16-year old companion Christopher Craig to hand over his weapon, Bently shouted “Let him have it, Chris!” The prosecution, unable to secure the the execution of Craig because of his minor status, argued that those words constituted an instruction to murder, rather than to comply with the officer’s instruction. It was never even proved that Craig fired the fatal shot – there was ballistics evidence to suggest that the fatal shot may have come from a police revolver, but that evidence was not presented in court. That is the standard of evidence it took to execute someone with an IQ of 77 and a mental age of about 11, in a mature democracy with as good a criminal justice system as you’re likely to find anywhere in the world.

  108. says

    One of the things that doesn’t seem to be mentioned often in these debates is that when someone dies, they’re not the only ones affected.

    I mean, the families of murder victims are mentioned, but not the families of the people on death row.

    They’re already going to be hurt, on some level, but killing the criminal, but if they have to live with the knowledge that their child/sibling/spouse was tortured to death over the course of almost an hour, that’s a punishment for them as well.

    Part of the reason I’m glad the electric chair fell out of use is that regardless of how quick and painless it was supposed to be for the convict (and most evidence suggests it was not), it was horrific for the official witnesses (eyeballs popping out and things like that), and also unpleasant for families who wanted to see the corpse.

    Even if you agree with the death penalty, executions like this one don’t just punish the convict.

    That, and as far as I know nobody has been sentenced to “death by torture”, so “do the crime, take the punishment” doesn’t work either.

  109. Derek Vandivere says

    And I’m pretty sure (this came up in a case where a bunch of Somali pirates who fired on the Dutch Navy are now asking for asylum here) that most European countries won’t extradite to the US if the death penalty might be involved.

  110. arakasi says

    The comments from the Miami Herald just go to prove that many people don’t have any problem with what Lockett did. They just think that he picked the wrong victim.

  111. yubal says

    This is the problem: the death penalty ends up turning all of us into murderers, and I’d rather not promote the same brutality that Clayton Lockett committed. It dehumanizes us.

    Adding to this line of thought:

    Delivering death is not a punishment, it relieves the criminal from a life in prison, constantly exposed to the consequences of his own wrong doing. Killing him ends the punishment prematurely.

    For us as society, we do not deliver punishment by death, we simply want to revenge the innocent victim(s). The death “penalty” is a form of revenge executed by the state on behalf of the victims, not a punishment. An eye for an eye.

  112. caesar says

    Amphiox@ 76:

    When one excuses, ignores, justifies, or celebrates the brutal death of another human being, that action says jack diddly squat about the person who suffered the brutal death. We shall judge that person on his or her life, not his or her death, and that judgment is to be made at another time.

    But what it DOES tell us is a great deal about you, the one who excuses, ignores, justifies or celebrates brutal death

    I’m so sick of this whole “let’s feel sorry for the murderer ” routine. As far as I’m concerned, the execution was a success. If it was unpleasant for the murderer then sucks for him. I think all this concern over the way this guy died is just fake bullshit designed to give the appearance of being “humane” or “civilized”. To put it another way, I believe all this concern is motivated more by a desire to give a pretence of being morally superior to “savages” like me who don’t feel an ounce of sorrow for the way the murderer died. For instance, I often hear people say that they dont support the death penalty because it’s cruel or because it’s done out of a desire for vengeance, yet locking people up in a cage 24/7, sometimes for life, doesn’t elicit that same response. Locking people up in prison is basically legalized slavery. In fact, people often support locking people up rather than adeath sentence based on the idea that death is too easy, and woould actually involve less suffering. So the point is that people should stop all this moralizing about how people like me are so bloodthirsty, when in reality we aren’t that different.

  113. Bernard Bumner says

    And I’m pretty sure (this came up in a case where a bunch of Somali pirates who fired on the Dutch Navy are now asking for asylum here) that most European countries won’t extradite to the US if the death penalty might be involved.

    Members of the EU cannot extradite to the US (or any other country) unless suffiicient assurance is given that the death penalty is either not sought or will not be carried out.

  114. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’m so sick of this whole “let’s feel sorry for the murderer ” routine.

    Who gives a shit what a morally bankrupt liberturd feels. Either show that the death penalty system is without error, and for the death penalty to be applied a higher and more secure level of evidence is required for that sentence, or you have nothing but you want revenge, without showing the death penalty works as you think it does.

  115. Bernard Bumner says

    I’m so sick of this whole “let’s feel sorry for the murderer ” routine. As far as I’m concerned, the execution was a success. If it was unpleasant for the murderer then sucks for him.

    So torture is fine? The manner of death is not an issue? If they fed him into a woodchipper, that would also be fine?

    I believe all this concern is motivated more by a desire to give a pretence of being morally superior to “savages” like me who don’t feel an ounce of sorrow for the way the murderer died.

    It isn’t a pretence. The position is morally superior.

    It doesn’t make me feel any better to know that there a people who have your vicious sort of attitude – I would be very happy if everyone rejected the death penalty.

    For instance, I often hear people say that they dont support the death penalty because it’s cruel or because it’s done out of a desire for vengeance, yet locking people up in a cage 24/7, sometimes for life, doesn’t elicit that same response.

    I don’t believe in whole life imprisonment unless it is for the purposes of protecting the innocent (or the guilty). I believe that parole should remain a possibility in all cases.

    No-one should be simply locked up in a cage; prisoners should be treated with humanity and dignity.

    Locking people up in prison is basically legalized slavery.

    That is a very silly thing to argue. It isn’t. (Unless you’re talking about, for example, US prison labour – in which case you have some crumb of a point.)

    Prison is inherently punative, but the purpose of custodial sentences are not necessarily merely punative.

    In fact, people often support locking people up rather than adeath sentence based on the idea that death is too easy, and woould actually involve less suffering.

    Some people make that argument; people who believe in punative justice.

    So the point is that people should stop all this moralizing about how people like me are so bloodthirsty, when in reality we aren’t that different.

    You apparently are bloodthirsty, because you don’t care about the cruel torture and killing of a person, and because you apparently don’t care that innocent people are killed by capital punishment regimes.

  116. caesar says

    Just to be clear, I’m not arguing for or against the death penalty, nor am I arguing about how inmates should be treated in our prisons. My claim is that we’re all bloodthirsty. Some of us are more willing to admit it. When yubal @ 118 says

    Delivering death is not a punishment, it relieves the criminal from a life in prison, constantly exposed to the consequences of his own wrong doing. Killing him ends the punishment prematurely.

    I think to myself, how is that any less cruel or vengeance-seeking than the death penalty? It indicates to me a desire to see someone endure intense long-term suffering, which is what vengeance is all about. My point is that the difference is that guys would call this “punishment” rather than “vengeance” out of a desire to appear morally superior to people like me.

  117. nich says

    My point is that the difference is that guys would call this “punishment” rather than “vengeance” out of a desire to appear morally superior to people like me.

    I have no fucking desire whatsoever to appear morally superior to some asshat in a far flung corner of the internet. You’re not that important, cuppycake.

  118. says

    My claim is that we’re all bloodthirsty.

    I’m not, and unlike most, I have a valid reason to be. The man who raped, beat, and tried to murder me is in prison, has been for a long time now. I am vehemently against capital punishment.

  119. says

    My claim is that we’re all bloodthirsty. Some of us are more willing to admit it.

    I think you have made it quite clear that you are arguing more than this. You are not arguing that we all have these feelings. You actively want and are happy to have people tortured and brutalized. I would agree that many people are pretty bloodthirsty, I think it is fairly common to have flashes of anger, feelings of revenge, but unlike you, we are able to understand that this is not a good thing and set it aside.

  120. anteprepro says

    caesar, gibbertarian and firm believer in “fuck you, I’ve got mine”, believes everyone is bloodthirsty and is loudly opposed to having sympathy for Criminals? Go fucking figure. I wonder if caesar is capable of empathy for anyone , in any arena of life.

  121. says

    And I should say, I am a person that gets flashes of anger, but that is all they are, flashes, short term feelings that go away. But don’t dare try to say that everyone must really be feeling the need for revenge, baying for blood. I feel nothing of that sort in this case.

  122. David Marjanović says

    It took him half an hour to die

    Not 30 minutes. 43 minutes.

    Literal medical experimentation on death-row inmates isn’t cruel or unusual according to this actual judge.

    …this cruel and unusual judge.

    Take my terror, add physical pain, and the knowledge that instead of trying to save your life, the people around you were trying to kill you. I can’t even comprehend the level of torture that Clayton Lockett underwent before he died.

    No wonder he died of a heart attack.

    I don’t think a governor should be above the law. If the court orders you not to execute a prisoner (yet), and you go ahead and have him killed anyway, how is that not murder?

    QFT.

    By the time a prisoner is executed America, there is about a 50% probability that the lawyer that represented him at the initial trial has been disbarred.

    *blink*

    *blink*

    And since this method was used and accepted at the time US of A was founded, any Eight Amendment claims about “cruel and usual” are moot.

    So? What makes you think the Founding Fathers didn’t intend the interpretation of this deliberately vague wording to be adapted to the times?

    Death Penalty […] enjoys large amount of popular support even in liberal Europe

    Where I come from, even the xenophobic party hasn’t tried to bring the death penalty back since the 1980s or so. And that last attempt was after a pedophile murdered his victim, the perfect occasion to call for worse punishments.

    Hell, this is country with elected judges for fuck’s sake.

    It gets worse.

    I’ll never forget seeing the campaign banner on TV that said “[name] – REPUBLICAN FOR JUDGE”.

    That asshole campaigned on the promise that he would not be impartial!!!

    That is the standard of evidence it took to execute someone with an IQ of 77 and a mental age of about 11, in a mature democracy with as good a criminal justice system as you’re likely to find anywhere in the world.

    Do you really think it’s no better over here? The law systems of most countries aren’t descended from the Magna Carta, so they don’t prescribe a jury for every trial – a jury composed of average people with average ignorance of the law, as opposed to judges that have actually studied what they’re talking about.

    I’m so sick of this whole “let’s feel sorry for the murderer ” routine. As far as I’m concerned, the execution was a success. If it was unpleasant for the murderer then sucks for him. I think all this concern over the way this guy died is just fake bullshit designed to give the appearance of being “humane” or “civilized”.

    Translation: you are a sociopath who cannot imagine that anyone else might not be a sociopath.

    (I am not saying this lightly. There are such people, I’ve encountered an extremely blatant one on the Internet before.)

    Locking people up in prison is basically legalized slavery.

    In the US it is! If you believe anyone here is fine with that, you must be new here.

  123. says

    caesar:

    I’m so sick of this whole “let’s feel sorry for the murderer ” routine. As far as I’m concerned, the execution was a success. If it was unpleasant for the murderer then sucks for him. I think all this concern over the way this guy died is just fake bullshit designed to give the appearance of being “humane” or “civilized”. To put it another way, I believe all this concern is motivated more by a desire to give a pretence of being morally superior to “savages” like me who don’t feel an ounce of sorrow for the way the murderer died. For instance, I often hear people say that they dont support the death penalty because it’s cruel or because it’s done out of a desire for vengeance, yet locking people up in a cage 24/7, sometimes for life, doesn’t elicit that same response. Locking people up in prison is basically legalized slavery. In fact, people often support locking people up rather than adeath sentence based on the idea that death is too easy, and woould actually involve less suffering. So the point is that people should stop all this moralizing about how people like me are so bloodthirsty, when in reality we aren’t that different.

    So, just to be clear, you have no problem with people being tortured to death, as long as you think they deserve it.
    You’re a horrible human being.
    And yes, imprisonment is far preferable to state sanctioned execution. It’s mind boggling that you have no problem with a government killing its own citizens.
    Also, as others have said, our position *IS* morally superior to yours fuckwit. You supporters of the death penalty, who are happy when people are killed (as long as you agree with the reasons) *are* bloodthirsty assholes who think human rights are arbitrary and only the “right” kind of people get to have those rights.

    The death penalty is barbaric and the US justice system is rife with signifiant problems.

    https://www.aclu.org/capital-punishment/death-penalty-101

    The U.S.’s capital punishment process:
    (1) is fraught with error;

    (2) discriminates on the basis of socioeconomic status, race, and geography;

    (3) is arbitrary and capricious, including its use against the mentally ill and defendants who did not kill anyone and did not intend that anyone be killed;

    (4) costs taxpayers far more than life imprisonment without release;

    (5) does nothing to protect people from crime;

    (6) seriously harms the survivors of homicide victims;

    (7) is plagued by cheap legal representation – the worst, not the best, of American lawyering; and

    (8) greatly diminishes the worldwide stature of the United States and its ability to work to end human rights violations in other countries.crimes it is possible to commit. It enjoys large amount of popular support even in liberal Europe, where “progressive” politicians have resorted to all sorts of legislative and diplomatic tricks to prevent popular will from restoring it. I do not believe those measures will last forever.

  124. says

    Travis:

    And I should say, I am a person that gets flashes of anger, but that is all they are, flashes, short term feelings that go away. But don’t dare try to say that everyone must really be feeling the need for revenge, baying for blood. I feel nothing of that sort in this case.

    I’m 100% in agreement.
    I wish caesar wasn’t a bloodthirsty asshole, but apparently he’s fine being that way.

    ****

    caesar:
    Do you understand what human rights are?
    Do you think that those rights belong to everyone or only some people?
    Do you think governments-who are supposed to protect their citizens-should be killing them?

  125. azhael says

    I think all this concern over the way this guy died is just fake bullshit designed to give the appearance of being “humane” or “civilized”.

    You got that the wrong way around. It´s because people are humane and civilized that they are concerned about not causing suffering to others.
    By the way, to me prison, particularly so in cases of murderers and such, is not a punishment, it’s just the only reasnoable way to contain dangerous people and prevent them from causing further harm.

    There is a difference between experiencing “blood thirst” and acting on it. We are all capable of experiencing extreme feelings of aggression or desire for vengeance. Healthy, moral people experience them too, and might even indulge in fantasizing about acting on those feelings, but then they choose not to act on them because doing so would be inmoral. Like everybody else i’ve wanted to physically hurt people….badly, and fantasizing about it has even felt good on some occassions. I don’t however act on such feelings, not just because it would be wrong, but also because i would take no pleasure in actually hurting someone. When it became a physical reality it would provide no pleasure or satisfaction, it would only horrify me and make me feel disgusted with myself. That’s because there is no situation in which causing real suffering to someone would be enjoyable to me. I don’t think i could even muster detached apathy towards seeing someone i trully despise and hate suffering. Suffering is always a terrible thing.
    You are obviously fine with letting the beast out and giving in to those feelings as well as enjoying the actual, real suffering of others…which is terribly worrying…and is the reason why many people end up in prison in the first place.

  126. says

    azhael @ 133:

    By the way, to me prison, particularly so in cases of murderers and such, is not a punishment, it’s just the only reasnoable way to contain dangerous people and prevent them from causing further harm.

    I wish that were so in the States. It isn’t. The prison system here is a fucking hollow, bad joke. People who go in on a not so serious crime come out much, much worse. Prisons are one of the easiest places to score drugs, and the bulk of people locked up in the States are there on drug charges. There’s no particular effort to stop the high incidence of rape in prison, whether perpetrated by inmates or guards. Many people, who have managed to rehabilitate themselves in spite of the penal system will never have an opportunity for release. There are no consistent rehabilitation programs, even when it comes to those proven to work. Gangs proliferate in prison, and violence is rife. The answer? Supermax, let’s lock those people up 23 hours a day, with no right to human contact!

    Yes, some people are dangerous and will never reach a point they aren’t dangerous, and yes, they need to be kept away from society at large. That does not excuse treating them inhumanely, and it certainly does not excuse the treatment of everyone else in prison.

  127. knowknot says

    72. scourge99

    scourge99 In response to anteprepro @64:

    Every botched execution should be taken seriously. Every unethical abortion doctor like Kermit Gosnell should be taken seriously. And every shooting should be taken seriously. But just because these occurrences happen doesn’t somehow make a cogent argument for claiming executions, abortions, or guns should be banned.

     
    Almost clever, almost subtle use of the hook there. My guess is you were proud. My guess is also that some of this was either borrowed or unintentionally “clever.” But:
    — The addition of “shooting” with its unstated implication of protecting valid self defense doesn’t necessarily impart its potential validity to the separate issues of capital punishment.
    — The head fake toward reason in stating that specific horrors of abortion do not constitute an argument against abortion in general doesn’t give you a hot button pass on your (unstated) argument for the (implied, but related by placement) validity of separate arguments regarding capital punishment.
    — And the spurious linking of abortion to “shooting” and capital punishment to not impart analogous validity to arguments regarding potentials for murder or miscarriage of justice to the separate issues of abortion.

  128. knowknot says

    @49. Endorkened

    …And now fuck me, I’m actually crying and I’m not sure why.

     
    Quite the opposite. Bless you for being human, for showing a piece of the decency required to be meaningfully concerned with real life, and the nasty realities of whatever justice should or may be.
    It’s those who can look at this issue with the objectivity and certainty of a stone god whose responses, to whatever end, should be questioned.

  129. knowknot says

    @39 Caesar
    @76 Amphiox

    So a guy who shot a woman and buried her alive died a brutal death because the prison officials botched the execution? Lets all take a moment of silence for the deceased. Ah fuck that, I’m going out to eat.

    As usual, caesar, you miss the point.

    When one excuses, ignores, justifies, or celebrates the brutal death of another human being, that action says jack diddly squat about the person who suffered the brutal death. We shall judge that person on his or her life, not his or her death, and that judgment is to be made at another time.

    But what it DOES tell us is a great deal about you, the one who excuses, ignores, justifies or celebrates brutal death.

     
    – Agreement with Amphiox, that the killing of a person says precisely nothing about the person killed. In cases of emergency defense to protect another life, the motive is ostensibly the protection of a potential victim. In war, the motive is ostensibly the prevention of some wrong on the part of the offending state, as opposed to the one-by-one elimination of individual and independent units of evil.
     
    – What statement could we be making regarding the executed? What statement could we be making TO the executed? If execution Is meant as a preventative threat, the statement is a general one to potential offenders, and since threat is seen to be necessary to prevent immoral actions on their part, the statement is not a moral in effect; merely prohibitive. The executed are simply going to be dead… and the only possibilities I can imagine regarding them are:
    / That their last experience before complete and permanent lack of experience must be suffering. No lesson to carry on, no character to improve, just happy feelings for the survivors, apparently… and since the agony will be private, no increase in preventative effect.
    / Hope that suffering will lead to repentance, and an eternity of glory… in which case why is it their suffering that is celebrated?
    / An opportunity to take the side of God, who will be sending them to Hell anyway. By adding a little extra time in something like Hell, perhaps the cause is advanced?
     
    – In capital punishment, as far as I can tell, the variously held motives are the maintenance of a general threat intended to prevent behavior similar to that of the accused, a general requirement of making the “punishment fit the crime” (which varies according to type of crime – sometimes addressing compensation of the victim, sometimes complying with the dictum “an eye for an eye” because something-or-other), some vain hope of eliminating the cost of long term imprisonment, or, apparently rarely, a sense that death is more merciful than life-long imprisonment.
     
    – In specific terms of the punishment “fitting the crime,” the only “compensation” I can think of is emotional, which is equivalent to vengeance, or compliance with the “eye for an eye” dictum, which, with execution, also loses any compensatory value apart from vengeance.
    – So, by my limited understanding, the questions come down to:
    / Does execution succeed as a preventative?
    / Is vengeance a useful or effective form of compensation?
    / Is execution, in total, less costly than life-long imprisonment?
    / Is execution more merciful than life imprisonment?
    – Prevention and cost should be subject to objective analysis.
    – The (least asked) question regarding mercy can likely only be answered in individual cases, due to individually varying effects of imprisonment or imminent death.
     
    – But it seems to me that the concept of compensation is perhaps more at the core, because it serves either as a sole justification (ie, “he did/didn’t get the suffering he deserved” or “we owe it to the survivors”) or as a variously subtle emotional driver for other, more legally-oriented arguments. And (it seems to me) that due to the apparent commonality of these justifications, the truly massive and difficult questions become even more pressing:
    / Given the emotional, psychological and sociological natures and effects of vengeance (inasmuch as they are known), can ANY state base legal actions on it with any degree of reason, fairness, or precision?
    / What effect does the state have on society when it becomes an arbiter of vengeance, either as an individually valid cause, or as an underlying driver of other causes?
     
    Regardless of all else, the concept of the state (or any bit of society) as arbiter and purveyor of vengeance is a source of nightmare for me. If that’s naive, I would, in all sincerity, like to know why.

  130. Zugswang says

    I got here late, but I want to clarify a few things mentioned here and in the article as it relates to pharmacology, pharmacy practice, etc.:

    General clarification: just because something is an anesthetic doesn’t mean it’s an analgesic. Something that puts you to sleep doesn’t necessarily take away your pain.

    One other solution the embattled executioners have found to their problem is to use “compounding centers,” pharmaceutical chop shops, which were largely unregulated until last year…

    This isn’t actually true, and the characterization of compounding pharmacies as “chop shops” is absurd. It’s the only thing about this article that I found wanting. Compounding pharmacies had regulations prior to the NECC disaster (which the NECC precipitated by violating many existing regulations), but they weren’t/aren’t as strict as for large-scale manufacturers, precisely because the former are small-scale facilities that prepare individualized medications that aren’t otherwise available. It used to be that community pharmacies did all manner of pharmacy compounding, but as retail pharmacies overtook independent pharmacies in almost every part of the country, these retailers did not see compounding as cost-effective, and have all but abandoned the practice. I worked for Kroger for a while, and the most complex compounding I ever did was to dissolve Prilosec in a bicarbonate solution; any sterile compounding or specialty products are now the almost exclusive domain of compounding pharmacies.

    I imagine the reason many of these states want to keep the source of their execution drugs secret is because pharmacists, like physicians, have professional ethics, and in many states, participating in an execution could very well get your state board of pharmacy to take away your license. So they’re going to these less scrupulous compounding pharmacies that will overlook what I imagine to be some pretty obvious red flags when they get a prescription from someone who probably doesn’t have current prescribing authority, and it’s for a dosage that is well above toxic levels for any human being.

    #43 Marcus Ranum

    Zoloft (sertraline) is an antidepressant; you’re thinking about Zofran (ondansetron) which is an anti-vomiting agent (to prevent the person from choking on their vomit when they start overdosing on phenobarb), but it doesn’t have any anesthetic effect. The anesthetic activity is the doing of the phenobarbital. I’ve also heard of other right to die organizations that just use a plastic bag over the head and some helium. In some hospices, I’ve also heard of patients effectively being allowed to “accidentally” overdose themselves on morphine, hydromorphone, etc. though it’s largely hearsay.

    #66, 79 Rorschach

    Spot on. But then, we’re dealing with people who have very little medical knowledge who are primarily concerned with killing people, not necessarily doing it humanely. That, and I know that they can’t get pentobarbital because the company that manufactures it (Lundbeck) will no longer sell it to state departments after they found out why it was being used, so it could be because of other manufacturers following suit, as well, thus the backdoor methods some states are trying to use so they can get these drugs.

  131. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Sodium thiopental was also used in the early execution cocktails, but also has run into procurement problems. According to the Wiki article:

    Sodium thiopental, also known as Sodium Pentothal (a trademark of Abbott Laboratories), thiopental, thiopentone, or Trapanal (also a trademark), is a rapid-onset short-acting barbiturate general anesthetic that is an analogue of thiobarbital. Sodium thiopental is a core medicine in the World Health Organization’s “Essential Drugs List”, which is a list of minimum medical needs for a basic healthcare system.[3] It was previously the first of three drugs administered during most lethal injections in the United States, but the US manufacturer Hospira stopped manufacturing the drug and the EU banned the export of the drug for this purpose.[4]

    It appears that some pharmaceutical companies have ethical problems with their products being used in executions.

  132. knowknot says

    @87 mirrorfield

    *Death Penalty is the ultimate punishment. It should be meted out for a very short list of worst crimes it is possible to commit. It enjoys large amount of popular support even in liberal Europe, where “progressive” politicians have resorted to all sorts of legislative and diplomatic tricks to prevent popular will from restoring it. I do not believe those measures will last forever.

     
    A question, re ONLY the statement above, which I mean sincerely:
    – By what process do you come to the certainty that this “ultimate punishment” “should be meted out for a very short list of worst crimes”?
     
    I ask because (stated not with presumption of being preemptive, but only to shorten an impossible thread):
    / The argument regarding “the ultimate punishment” seems to rely on an overall mathematical cancellation given a punishment in contrast to the related offense. Meaning, it implies that each lesser offense implies a “precise enough” punishment which is both evident, unequivocal, just, effective and enforceable. It appears to me that this calculus fails with wild abandon across the scale.
    / Seen in light of the nature of other “punishments,” how exactly does execution conform to the same justifications or purposes? The executed is just plain dead as a result, and the punishment appears to be limited to whatever suffering may occur in the period between apprehension and execution (unless you’re counting on Hell, or hoping that suffering will lead to redmption). This seems vastly different from other sentences, both compensatory and strictly punitive. So I can’t figure how that leaves anything but retribution as an argument…

  133. says

    knowknot @ 140:

    So I can’t figure how that leaves anything but retribution as an argument…

    It doesn’t. It’s an eye for eye, full stop.

  134. zenlike says

    108 Derek Vandivere

    @102 / Zenlike: Now you’re on a different playing field altogether.

    Nope, you are, I have already addressed this in 103.

    111 Derek Vandivere

    Apparently, the UK doesn’t count as part of Europe, or maybe people think there’s an official Liberal Europe. Goal post move #1.

    Nope, no goal post moving at all, I already addressed this in 96.

    So, are you going to continue debating dishonestly? Because this is getting tiresome.

  135. zenlike says

    119 caesar

    I’m so sick of this whole “let’s feel sorry for the murderer ” routine. As far as I’m concerned, the execution was a success.

    How come almost every libertarian out their thinks the government cannot anything right, but begins too loudly sheer when that same government starts to literally kill people.

    And no, I don’t share your bloodlust, stop projecting.

  136. zenlike says

    Sigh, I know I have to let it go, but I’m suffering from a serious case of ‘someone is wrong on the internet’ here.

    Look, 2 different cases:

    A: “There is a majority in the UK.” “No there is not.” Here are the figures.” “Yeah, but what about a majority in Europe?”

    B: “There is a majority in Europe.” “No there is not.” Here are the figures of the UK.” “You cannot just extrapolate those figures to the entirety of Europe.”

    One of the above is moving the goal post. One is not. Derek, try to learn from this.

  137. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @caesar, 123:

    Just to be clear, I’m not arguing for or against the death penalty, nor am I arguing about how inmates should be treated in our prisons.

    Well, that makes your comments in this thread a waste of space.

    from 119:

    I’m so sick of this whole “let’s feel sorry for the murderer ” routine. As far as I’m concerned, the execution was a success. If it was unpleasant for the murderer then sucks for him. I think all this concern over the way this guy died is just fake bullshit designed to give the appearance of being “humane” or “civilized”. To put it another way, I believe all this concern is motivated more by a desire to give a pretence of being morally superior to “savages” like me who don’t feel an ounce of sorrow for the way the murderer died.

    and back to 123:

    I think to myself, how is that (the sentiment that “killing [a murderer] ends the punishment prematurely”) any less cruel or vengeance-seeking than the death penalty? It indicates to me a desire to see someone endure intense long-term suffering, which is what vengeance is all about. My point is that the difference is that guys would call this “punishment” rather than “vengeance” out of a desire to appear morally superior to people like me.

    Possibly even true. Now provide data that all people that oppose the death penalty do so for the same reason and using the same reasoning.

    Yeah. Thought so.

    Sociopathic generalization FTF.

  138. Nick Gotts says

    My claim is that we’re all bloodthirsty. Some of us are more willing to admit it. – caesar

    And the evidence that claim is based on?

    *crickets*

    Typical libertarian, both in callousness, and in willingness to make confident assertions in the teeth of the evidence: the existence of people who oppose torture and the death penalty, of those who actively give their time andor money to oppose these things, of the relatives of murder victims and the victims of attempted murder (see inaji@126 for example) who oppose the killing of those who victimised them. Caesar, without evidence, calls all these people bloodthirsty liars and hypocrites.

  139. Amphiox says

    I’m so sick of this whole “let’s feel sorry for the murderer ” routine. As far as I’m concerned, the execution was a success. If it was unpleasant for the murderer then sucks for him.

    Talk about completely missing the point, again.

    This has NOTHING to do with “feeling sorry for the murderer”. At all.

    It has EVERYTHING to do with the kind of person that would consider a botched brutal execution to be a success, and whether or not it is an appropriate thing for the REST OF US to be that kind of person.

    The murderer is IRRELEVANT to this discussion.

  140. Amphiox says

    My claim is that we’re all bloodthirsty. Some of us are more willing to admit it

    There is a difference between admitting it and CELEBRATING it.

    You, caesar, celebrate it.

  141. joubert says

    Inaji 141: There is also the idea that putting a criminal to death gives closure to the victim’s family members, but that’s also fundamentally based on eye-for-eye revenge (and sometimes dubious in effectiveness, if the articles that came up when I Googled “Capital Punishment Closure” are any indication, James Ellroy, whose mother was murdered, famously called closure “bullshit” and said he would like to find the guy who invented the concept and shove a giant closure plaque up his ass.) As our knowledge progresses the arguments of death penalty activists are being slowly dismantled. They can, for instance, no longer say that it deters crime since it has been definitively proven that the murder rates of states with capital punishment are equal to or higher than those without, and they can’t say that the death penalty is far less expensive than life in prison because that, too, has been repeatedly debunked, so these days their arguments mostly boil down to “it makes me feel good”. They’re either suspiciously silent or similarly fallacious when asked how rejoicing in torture and murder makes them any better than the criminals they condemn, however, assuming they don’t proudly admit that they believe stripping a person of his human rights and basquing in the details of his brutal death is acceptible under certain circumstances, at which point I simply have nothing to say. How can I adequately respond to something like that? Should I even bother trying, considering that, in a forum like the Internet, I’m probably just going to be called a “bleeding heart libtard” or whatever and the person with whom I’m conversing won’t end up understanding the least tincture of my outlook, no matter the extent of my efforts?

  142. says

    Joubert @ 149, I have no time to waste on the concept of closure myself. The man who raped and murdered many women and raped and almost murdered me is in prison. That doesn’t give me closure, however, I feel better knowing that many women are alive that wouldn’t have been if he had been free all these years.

    I wouldn’t get closure from his death, either. What happened to me and others is that our lives changed, irrevocably. We all got a life sentence, and there isn’t a damn thing which will change that. Nothing will ever give us our former lives or selves back. Killing someone truly isn’t helpful, it actually causes many survivors a great deal of damage.

  143. Amphiox says

    There is also the idea that putting a criminal to death gives closure to the victim’s family members, but that’s also fundamentally based on eye-for-eye revenge

    Closure is such a varied and individual thing that there is no way anyone can argue credibly that any form of action as policy can be reliably said to provide closure.

    Some victim’s families will get closure simply from the killer being convicted. Some if the killer is sentenced to life imprisonment. Some get closure from things completely unrelated to the killer at all. Some never get closure….

  144. Sili says

    The only crimes I would consider accepting the death penalty for are destruction of the environment and sale of a endangered animals. But of course only for the wholesalers, not the poor sods who feel forced to kill to feed their families.

  145. caesar says

    I see there’s been a lot of vitriol aimed towards me. Apparently I’m a sociopath, a libertarian (not that there’s anything wrong with that), and I celebrate the torture of another human being, among other things. The reality is that I have no particular desire to see someone tortured. However, the fact that a murderous sob suffered in agony before he died just doesn’t tug at my heartstrings. Let’s look at the silver lining. Mr Lockett’s botched execution provided him with a teachable moment before died, with the lesson being to know what it’s like to have the life snuffed out of you. I feel a similar way about the death of Anwar al-Awlaki. Whatever you may think about the war on tereor, does anyone really give a shit that he was blown up by a drone? When an innocent person gets executed for crimes they didn’t commit, then I’ll feel sorry for them. Otherwise I consider it just a happy accident.

  146. says

    caeasar

    does anyone really give a shit that he was blown up by a drone?

    YES, you complete shithead. Many people here are categorically opposed to blowing people up with drones, with bombs, with artillery, or by whatever other means. We’re also opposed to shooting, stabbing, electrocuting and poisoning people. We consider these to be bad things.

  147. says

    Obviously, a botched execution brings up obvious concerns about the barbarism of the death penalty.

    But as far as I’m concerned, the pertinent question is never “is it humane?”

    The pertinent question is always “is it reversible?”

    Once the answer to that is “yes,” then we can start talking about whether it’s humane.

  148. A Masked Avenger says

    I feel a similar way about the death of Anwar al-Awlaki. Whatever you may think about the war on tereor, does anyone really give a shit that he was blown up by a drone? When an innocent person gets executed for crimes they didn’t commit

    You know Awlaki, an American citizen, was guilty because he was convicted by a jury of his peers? No wait, that didn’t happen. So you’re good with the idea that someone, like the President, can simply decide you’re guilty and order your death? Why did we bother seceding from Britain or writing a Constitution then?

    I’ll assume, because I sure hope it’s true, that you feel the same about any American the President might decide to kill–not just the brownish ones with foreign sounding names.

  149. anteprepro says

    caesar is doubling down on the sadism I see. Your bright side is that the executed person had a “teachable moment” before they died? Do you believe in an afterlife, caesar? That smug bulshit is exactly what we are talking about when we say that you are reveling in this shit. Sick fuck.

  150. Rey Fox says

    Ah yes, I think I remember caesar reveling in the drone death of al-Awlaki before. We all know you’re a shithead, you don’t need to keep repeating it. Oh golly gosh, there’s that vitriol again!

  151. Daniel Schealler says

    @caesar

    Just to be clear, I’m not arguing for or against the death penalty, nor am I arguing about how inmates should be treated in our prisons. My claim is that we’re all bloodthirsty. Some of us are more willing to admit it.

    I admit it. There’s a grim satisfaction in what happened in this case.

    The difference is, I think that feelings of grim satisfaction is not a sound basis for setting up a legal system with the power to pass a sentence of death on a person.

    In this situation, the total amount of suffering in the world was increased unnecessarily. That’s a bad thing.

    I’m generally opposed to the death penalty. But I could maybe be convinced in some select and context-sensitive cases that killing someone off may be the right thing to do on grounds of preventing future harm. It’s unlikely, but my mind could possibly be changed.

    However: PZ’s point in the OP remains a pertinent one. There are known ways of killing someone gently using chemicals, softly drifting away into the night. Even if you convinced me that it may be necessary for someone to be killed off, I see no way to justify not doing so as painlessly as possible.

    Because I get it.

    I get why people want leathal injections to be unpleasant. It’s supposed to be satisfying when they die. If they die happy, then that’s not good enough. They need to die scared and in pain and fully aware of what’s happening to them and why. They have to know in their final moments that they’re being punished, or it’s just not satisfying.

    I get it, the emotion is there inside. It speaks to me. I feel it. And it sickens me.

    I want to be better than that. So I suppress the murderous impulse and argue against painful and tortuous death as a form of punishment.

    Which is why I get pissed off (suppressing it) with your casual complacency towards your own bloodlust. That’s just not good enough.

    Emotions are an important part of ethical reasoning. But sometimes they have to be curtailed if we’re going to live good lives.

    In this example, the amount of suffering in the world was unnecessarily increased. And it was increased by the state in the name of justice. That’s unacceptable.

  152. Amphiox says

    Apparently I’m a sociopath… and I celebrate the torture of another human being…

    However, the fact that a murderous sob suffered in agony before he died just doesn’t tug at my heartstrings. Let’s look at the silver lining. Mr Lockett’s botched execution provided him with a teachable moment before died

    Yes, caesar, you do. And yes, caesar, you are.

    Teachable moment?! Silver lining?! You are indeed a vile, disgusting specimen.

    Even with the emotion excised into a pure Vulcan exercise the statement is asinine. What practical use is a teachable moment if the one who receives the lesson gets no opportunity to use the newly learned information? And if it cannot be used, in what way can it be justifiably called a “silver lining”?

    So your “silver lining” boils right back down to revenge. Your own barbaric atavistic urge to satisfy your desire to see and approve of suffering.

  153. Amphiox says

    Otherwise I consider it just a happy accident.

    HAPPY?!

    And you claim you do not celebrate torture?

  154. says

    Amphiox @160:

    Even with the emotion excised into a pure Vulcan exercise the statement is asinine. What practical use is a teachable moment if the one who receives the lesson gets no opportunity to use the newly learned information? And if it cannot be used, in what way can it be justifiably called a “silver lining”?

    I had the same thoughts when I read caesar’s comment.
    Although, anteprepro may be on to something @157:

    Do you believe in an afterlife, caesar?

  155. azhael says

    @152 Sili

    The only crimes I would consider accepting the death penalty for are destruction of the environment and sale of a endangered animals. But of course only for the wholesalers, not the poor sods who feel forced to kill to feed their families.

    Fucking hell….i take that shit VERY seriously and even i wouldn’t say something that atrocious.

    @134 Inaji

    Yes, some people are dangerous and will never reach a point they aren’t dangerous, and yes, they need to be kept away from society at large. That does not excuse treating them inhumanely, and it certainly does not excuse the treatment of everyone else in prison.

    I have nothing to add, i just wanted to stress how much i agree with every word.

    @159 Daniel

    I get it, the emotion is there inside. It speaks to me. I feel it. And it sickens me.

    Ceaser, pay attention, that´s the apropriate reaction to those feelings from a decent, moral human being.

  156. mirrorfield says

    @140:

    Because I think that such barbarities as torture should remain abolished. Founders of US explicitly codified this in 8th amendment of the constitution.

    Death, as a punishment while excluding barbarity I mentioned previously, takes everything. All future possibilities, dreams, hopes… Everything. From societal point, this suitably combines retribution (which IMHO is an intrinsic part of functioning judicial system, but only a part) and making sure that the offender will not reoffend. Uncertainties of rehabilitation become a moot point.

    A Jail term, even an indefinite one without parole, is subject to future uncertainty (escape, political change, pardon, etc.), which can become especially relevant if we are talking about high-end criminals with diehard followers: For example, think of Saddam and his effect on Iraq if Iraqis thought that there was a possibility, however remote, of his return to power. Also think of Ruhollah Khomeini, who was once exiled to France.

    This is the flip side of permanency that many death-penalty opponents decry.

    Humans are killer apes with deep-wired sense of justice. The Whole idea of legal- and justice systems are to create common rules and to outsource criminal investigations and corrections to a disinterested third party in order to make sure that accused person actually committed the crime in question and to mete out justice in manner that satisfies sufficient majority. If there is a perception that justice system doesn’t work and/or penalties inflicted are not sufficient, people will eventually start resorting to vigilantism.

  157. mirrorfield says

    @105: If “nobody forced” Oklahoma, then “nobody forced” any Texas woman seeking abortion to “submit being raped by ultrasonic wand”; she could simply “not have an abortion.” Yeah, right…

  158. zenlike says

    165 mirrorfield

    @105: If “nobody forced” Oklahoma, then “nobody forced” any Texas woman seeking abortion to “submit being raped by ultrasonic wand”; she could simply “not have an abortion.” Yeah, right…

    Wow. Just wow. If you truly think those two things have anything to do with one another…

    You truly are here to prove that you are an asshole, yes? Or that you are indeed a conservative, two concepts which are quite related to each other, as every conservative including yourself proves time and time again.

  159. Furr-a-Bruin says

    One of the other things that concerns me about this is – how many useful pharmaceuticals are the “Kill ‘em all” crowd going to remove from the US market in their pursuit of substances with which to kill prisoners?

    I’ve had sodium thiopental as a teenager, for oral surgery to remove my wisdom teeth. As I understand it, it’s not available here anymore solely because of the lethal injection issue and the fact that the one manufacturer of the drug (Lundbeck) refuses to sell it to the US without assurances it cannot be used for executions. Then we’ve had something very similar happen with pentobarbital – which isn’t even an anesthetic the way sodium thiopental is, it’s merely a very strong sedative.

    The thing is – for an execution it would seem to me the LAST thing you would want is a short acting anesthetic agent like thiopental, propofol or whatever; that’s perhaps the biggest part of the problem with many of these botched executions – the prisoner was not (or did not remain) unconscious while the other agents were injected.

    Seems to me (and I am not an expert, though I’ve long had an interest in pharmacology) that if they’re going to insist on killing people the best thing would be to have a state lab purify seized heroin to a known potency, then give the prisoner a big dose of Zofran or the like to prevent vomiting and just OD them. No paralytic for the “comfort” of observers, no painful KCl – they just pass out and then eventually stop breathing. Of course, the vengeance addicts would scream about sending out a murderer on a wave of heroin euphoria, but annoying that sort of person is something of a positive.

  160. methuseus says

    I know I’m really late to this, but I have to say this:
    @Daniel Schealler #159
    I basically agree with everything you said. You speak to my heart. I do get a somewhat “good” feeling from knowing this man suffered when he dies, but, as you said, it sickens me. It also doesn’t change that I feel like a few others have said, that the only humane way to kill someone is a morphine or heroin overdose. Yes, they will feel euphoric, but you wanted them dead, they’re dead, and with no excess suffering which could have been avoided. Otherwise executions are just not right.

  161. tac007 says

    Firstly, I am against the death penalty in all of its forms. Life in (a humane) prison w/o the possibility of parole will do the job for the truly guilty and if you’re not guilty (which happens more often than one might think given the nature of the justice system) you can be exonerated.

    Saying that homicide is OK simply because you add in the condition of “they did it first” is wrong. This does not excuse the heinous nature of the crimes that these offenders commit, but a civilized system should avoid sinking to the level of the “bad guy” that they are trying to punish. Medicalizing homicide is just another step further in the wrong direction.
    —————————————————–
    Now direct ethics issues aside, I cannot understand why the lethal injection protocol was ever set up the way it is set up. Giving the person a short acting barbiturate and then a neuromuscular blocker is just asking for anaesthesia awareness – and since the people performing the procedure (i.e. killing the person) could care less about whether the procedure is humane you run into problems.

    In the legitimate medical side, administration of a sedative + a paralytic is done all the time in a procedure called rapid sequence intubation, which is designed to secure a patients airway. This is done all the time in the OR and ED by physicians. The difference here is that the PT is a) ventilated, since the goal is to preserve life, and b) rapidly sedated to avoid anaesthesia awareness while the paralytic wears off.

    In the LI procedures, anaesthetic awareness is very likely, since the half life of the anaesthetic is very short compared to the neuromuscular blocker. The result is a conscious person who is paralyzed, unable to communicate and suffocating to death. This is virtually a textbook definition of torture – except that you’d never be able to tell given that the person appears to still be anesthetized even if they do have awareness.

    What I do not understand is how that one botched LI that used an overdose of hydromorphone (Dilaudid) and midazolam occurred. If the IV was placed correctly, which is a whole other can of worms, those drugs should have produced a rapid onset of unconsciousness followed by respiratory depression, without any pain at all (euphoria from the effects of the opiates would be more likely). The snoring respiration’s/gasping seen in some of these opiate w/o paralytic cases are as expected – the opiates cause respiratory depression, which causes hypoxia and then death. Any reported pain must have been due to improperly placed IV lines.
    If they still insist on having the death penalty, giving the person an overdose of hydromorphone via oral (if they were able to cooperate) or IM injection would be a lot less complicated and cause no pain.
    Heck if they really wanted to, an massive oral (option for the inmate to cause sedation and minimal awareness) dose of hydromorphone AND a barbituate or a benzo followed by an overdose of fentanyl (a few milligrams) or sufentanil via IM injection would cause no pain. The IM injection is also a lot harder to botch than the IV line.
    ————————————–
    There was a documentary a few yrs ago that ended up determining that inert gas asphyxiation would likely be the most humane method of execution in those states that refuse to abolish the death penalty.
    Nitrogen gas has caused fatalities in industrial settings primarily due to the fact that it is undetectable in the environment – since it displaces o2 in the atmosphere, it leads to asphyxiation without feelings of suffocation (this sensation of suffocation is due to hypercapnia [high co2 levels in the blood], and not due to hypoxia). Since the person still exchanges CO2 out of their system, they do not have any unpleasant sensations. Hypoxia produces euphoria and altered mental status before death without any pain whatsoever.
    —————————————-
    Although the true solution is to get rid of the barbaric idea of the death penalty. Medicalizing homicide is not ethical, and neither is killing someone simply because “they did it first”.

    It is especially interesting to note that many states that support the death penalty (which is technically involuntary euthanasia (although using the word euthanasia is probably too good for what it entails), do not support any form of assisted suicide for patients with documented terminal illness.

  162. tac007 says

    @Marcus Ranum

    Unfortunately that is EXACTLY what you would expect from that sequence of drugs.
    Suffocation (no different that murdering them w/ a pillow or other smothering implement you see in crime shows) that looks peaceful to any observers since the victim cannot communicate that they are aware.

  163. chigau (違う) says

    tac007
    Sometimes, it’s a good idea to look at the time-stamps of the comments.