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The bad thing about capitalism is that it reduces all human desires to the urge to make money.  That's also the good thing about capitalism.  Right now, states that want to execute people via lethal injection are having a hard time finding the necessary drugs to do so.  Because capitalism.  From the NYT (1/22/11) :

... Italian authorities said they would not permit export of [sodium thiopental] if it might be used for capital punishment. Hospira said in a statement Friday that its aim was to serve medical customers, but that “we could not prevent the drug from being diverted to departments of corrections” and the company did not want to expose itself to liability in Italy.
To understand how this works, you need to know how our government kills people in your name.  A recent (2/18/14) article in the Atlantic provides a quick summary:
Before the drug shortage, virtually every lethal-injection protocol used the same three-drug method. A first drug, sodium thiopental, anesthetized the prisoner. Then a second drug, pancuronium bromide, paralyzed the inmate and halted his or her breathing. Finally, an injection of potassium chloride stopped the heart.
One thing corporations care a lot about is losing money -- exposure to a lawsuit in Italy was enough to make the wheels fall off this one.

Many state corrections departments switched to pentobarbital, another powerful sedative, in their three-drug cocktail. But when its manufacturer, the Danish-based Lundbeck, learned that its product was being used in death penalty cases, it refused to sell any more to corrections departments and insisted that its American distributors also refuse to supply the drug.What a quandary.  The death states are going to have to go back to the electric chair or the noose I suppose.  And all this caused by the same heartless money-grubbing drug manufacturers that were thought to be firmly on the side of exploiting the public.

It turns out there's actually an organization dedicated to furthering executions in this country -- that must be a cheery job!  Anyway, this outfit, the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, headed up by one Kent Scheidegger, smells a rat, per the NYT (8/18/13) :

It’s an artificially created problem ... There is no difficulty in using a sedative such as pentobarbital. It’s done every day in animal shelters throughout the country. But what we have is a conspiracy to choke off capital punishment by limiting the availability of drugs.
My own humble proposal would be that death states could instead of turning over their executions to the management of animal shelters, simply seize the drugs from the distributors using condemnation via imminent domain, the same as for highways, etc.  This would of course require a bunch of (mostly ) red states to sue powerful corporations.  

The problem with this is that sodium thiopental, one of the key drugs in the traditional "3 drug cocktail" (first devised in 1977), is no longer being made, and it has a shelf life of only about 4 years. Pentobarbital is also becoming more difficult to locate.

The other solution is to turn every execution into an experiment using whatever drugs come to hand.  According to an NYT article (link) from 8/18/13:

... a shortage of pancuronium bromide a few years ago led some states to switch to a single-drug method, often simply administering enough sodium thiopental to cause death. The manufacturer of that drug, however, the Illinois-based Hospira, stopped providing it to corrections departments after workers at its Italian plant, and European officials, objected to the use of the drug for execution.
So, with sodium thiopental unavailable, time to set up the death laboratory.  Missouri is doing that right now, as it struggles to find a way to bump off Michael Taylor.  According to the Columbia Tribune (2/19/14), Missouri, having been unable to locate sufficient sodium thiopental, and apparently doubting whether it can assemble enough pentobarbital, has a plan B consisting of some combination of midazolam and hydromorphone.  They hope to avoid the problem of taking 15 minutes to suffocate Ohio convict Dennis McGuire on 1/16/14.

And the drug manufacturers for these experiments don't want to be identified.  Per the Columbia Tribune (linked above):

Missouri, like many states, is reluctant to divulge much information about where it obtains lethal injection drugs, citing the privacy rights of the supplier.
Well, at least there are some privacy rights still left.

Originally posted to Plan 9 from Oregon on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 06:13 AM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (23+ / 0-)

    You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

    by Cartoon Peril on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 06:13:04 AM PST

  •  I Would Say Social Democracy Brings it Down (5+ / 0-)

    Capitalism wouldn't result in lawsuits forusing a lethal cocktail for otherwise legal government executions. But a regulatory environment where the ingredients are made, in which human values are able to trump profits in such situations, will.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 06:17:57 AM PST

  •  I don't get the use of lethal injection. (7+ / 0-)

    If the goal is to be a more humane way of "offing" someone under state direction, won't it be a LOT more humane just go for a point-blank shotgun to the head?

    Instantaneously destroys the brain, no pain, no prolong fear while waiting for the drug to work, no chance of it not working. Sure, it would be traumatic for the observers and the executioner, and it would take a lot of time to cleanup, but hey, if you don't want that... perhaps figure out some other way beside killing someone as punishment?

    Something like life-imprisonment?

    •  I don't like the death penality. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cartoon Peril

      Its depressingly common for the wrong person to be executed.  

      However, there are a few other options that do seem to work and are fairly painless.  

      Hanging works by snapping the neck into the base of the brain resulting in a near instantaneous death.  The British blew mutineers from guns in the 1850s.  I'd imagine that was pretty instant also.  

      Still there is no way to correct a mistake.  

      I'm a 4 Freedoms Democrat.

      by DavidMS on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 10:07:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I find this entire issue just morbidly weird (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, BusyinCA, Cartoon Peril

    If a State is going to insist on executing someone with a needle - a hot shot of heroin would do the trick. Cyanide?

    Hell, the needle could be full of nothing but air.

    Dear future generations: Please accept our apologies, We were roaring drunk on petroleum -Kurt Vonnegut

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 08:01:42 AM PST

  •  Capital punishment is slowly going away (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pengiep, ichibon, Cartoon Peril

    The trend is our friend.

    None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

    by gjohnsit on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 09:30:40 AM PST

  •  Capital Punishment is bad for Business! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nattiq, Cartoon Peril

    It takes the customers out of the Corporate Prisons.  Just imagine the drain on the corporations bottom line if all of those life sentences were summarily ended.


    George H. W. Bush and his Tennessee friends created prisons for a profit for one reason and that was not to execute prisoners, it was to imprison people for profits.

    My wife, daughter and granddaughters should have more privacy in their doctor's office than I have buying another rifle or shotgun.

    by NM Ray on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 09:32:49 AM PST

  •  You mean Italians refused to supply the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pengiep, Cartoon Peril, spiritplumber

    drug for moral reasons? Where have I heard that before? Beuller? Beuller? Anyone?

    I love it when things come back to bite wingers on the ass!

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 10:13:59 AM PST

  •  Nitrogen suffocation would work. Though it (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheHalfrican, Nattiq, BusyinCA

    wouldn't be very spectacular nor painful and thus it would be unsatisfying for the bloodthirsty death penalty favoring yahoos. Toss the victim in an old fashioned airtight gas chamber and replace the air with nitrogen at room temperature. Since we sense a build up of CO2 in our tissues, but not a lack of oxygen, there would be no discomfort since CO2 would leave the body normally. The victim would not sense any air shortages etc., but would get goofy and euphoric and then lose consciousness. Leaving them suffocated in the chamber for an hour would assure they were dead, dead, dead.  

    Any time one is working with large quantities of Nitrogen (gas or liquid nitrogen) in a space that is not extremely well ventilated, nitrogen suffocation is a hazard because you don't feel any warning until you lose consciousness.

    "Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens," -Friedrich Schiller "Against Stupidity, the Gods themselves contend in Vain"

    by pengiep on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 10:19:42 AM PST

    •  National Review first suggested it IIRC (0+ / 0-)

      in one of their patented Broken Clock moments.

      Nobody government has EVER done it anywhere worldwide tho. Its ridiculous. Yay humanity. :(

      I'll take firing squad, guillotine, and a wet sponge electric chair over this increasingly Fugazi lethal injection process that politicians somehow imagined was "humane".

      "See? I'm not a racist! I have a black friend!"

      by TheHalfrican on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 01:07:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Carbon monoxide (boring!) (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wednesday Bizzare

      I think carbon monoxide does this too.  The body thinks it's breathing oxygen and gets light-headed, then passes out.  You can't tell CO is there -- that's why CO detectors save lives.

      [Title is reference to Coma (1978), starring Ed Harris and Robert Burton as funny pathologists.]

      Better to hide your tax returns and be thought a crook than to release them and remove all doubt. [Adapted from Abraham Lincoln]

      by Caelian on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 05:14:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's not a technical problem (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      There are plenty of ways to kill people. There are even relatively humane ways. But sooner or later this country is going to have to wake up and realize that most of the world has banned capital punishment for moral reasons, and the holdouts now include mostly repressive governments and one-party states. The list of problems with capital punishment is long, including in the U.S. the great disparities in who is sentenced to it (poverty and race being major factors), the very real possibility of wrongful conviction, and the fundamental point that killing people, even criminals, like unwanted animals now offends many people, both worldwide and increasingly in this country.

  •  Ohio experimented and the results were grotesque (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z, Cartoon Peril, spiritplumber

    The condemned man struggled, repeatedly snorted, seemed to gasp for breath and this went on for twenty fricking minutes before they pronounced him dead.

    Life is just a bowl of Cherries, that stain your hands and clothes and have pits that break your teeth.

    by OHdog on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 10:30:28 AM PST

    •  That SHOULD be the final straw dammit (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z, spiritplumber, OHdog

      If that dude was black we'd be hearing comparisons to lynchings. Where's the Supreme Court when you need it? Cruel and Unusual? Hello?

      Ironically, a properly weighed and prepared noose that snaps the neck is practical, cheap, and a helluva lot more humane than what McGuire suffered.

      "See? I'm not a racist! I have a black friend!"

      by TheHalfrican on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 01:31:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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