One Dead in Ohio

At least I know I’m free:

A death row inmate who was executed by the state of Ohio on Thursday with an untried and untested combination of two medical drugs appeared to gasp and snort in a procedure that took an unusually long 25 minutes to kill him.

Dennis McGuire was pronounced dead at 10.53am at the Southern Ohio Correctional facility in Lucasville. His lawyers had warned ahead of the proceeding that the experimental combination of the sedative midazolam and painkiller hydromorphone might subject him to “air hunger”, an insufficient flow of air into the lungs causing the sensation of suffocation.

In court proceedings last week, an Ohio state prosecutor said bluntly: “You’re not entitled to a pain-free execution,” and a judge allowed the execution to proceed.

That prosecutor has a future in politics.

By the way, there’s a shortage of midazolam (trade name Versed), but Florida and Ohio are stockpiling it because they can no longer buy the preferred execution drug, pentobarbital, from European manufacturers. One execution uses enough Versed to treat 100 patients.






101 replies
  1. 1
    The Tragically Flip says:

    Simply atrocious. Death penalty ethics aside, this amounts to drug testing on unwilling human subjects. Appalling.

  2. 2
    shortstop says:

    Some legislator proposed switching to a firing squad the other day. As I understand it, that’s actually about the most humane version of a barbaric policy.

  3. 3
    the Conster says:

    Wait, what year is this?

  4. 4
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    The judge should have replied “A random criminal acting barbarously isn’t a free pass for the rest of us to do likewise.”

  5. 5
    Elizabelle says:

    Would you believe some people are calling for a return of the guillotine!

    And not just Villago Delende Est for Villagers.

  6. 6
    Elizabelle says:

    I don’t agree with the death penalty.

    That said, from your Guardian story:

    McGuire, 53, was executed for the 1989 rape and murder of Joy Stewart, who was 22 and about 30-weeks pregnant at the time. Her unborn child also died.

    Members of Stewart’s family were present at his execution, and before it they put out a statement that said the manner in which McGuire was put to death was more humane than the brutal way he had murdered Joy.

  7. 7
    MikeJ says:

    It’s funny that the people who don’t trust the government to do anything right trust that it is always executing the right person.

  8. 8
    The Tragically Flip says:

    Don’t worry, Scalia will write the 5-4 decision ruling that 25 minutes of gasping agony is not a violation of the 8th amendment because argle bargle some 18th century hanging victims would have suffered the same. Original Intent!

  9. 9
    Tone In DC says:

    There are prosecutors in Virginia who probably wish they could still hang people. I heard that’s still legal in two states.

    And, yes, I am glad that DC, Maryland and Virginia don’t have that law on the books.

  10. 10
    Cermet says:

    This whole thing is beyond insane; a simple altitude chamber would be humane, low cost and fool-proof. Take someone up to 30,000 ft equivalent altitude and first, they are as happy as all get-out, and then they quickly fall asleep, peaceably. Shortly thereafter their heart stops.

    As for the first two parts, every air force person that uses altitude chambers can tell you, it is actually, fun. All other methods are sick and cruel (as is the whole execution idea is sick but if it is going to be done, then doing it without pain and without failure is critical.)

  11. 11
    Sasha says:

    In court proceedings last week, an Ohio state prosecutor said bluntly: “You’re not entitled to a pain-free execution,” and a judge allowed the execution to proceed.

    There’s a reason why its called the Justice System rather than the Vengeance System, jackass.

  12. 12
    sparrow says:

    @Elizabelle: And two wrongs don’t make a right. If a person is a danger to society, lock them up forever (it’s cheaper anyway). The death penalty does nothing to change the behavior of criminals, and it puts the lie to our having a civilized society.

  13. 13

    Representative Rick Brattin (r) introduced a bill in the Missouri House yesterday to allow for execution by firing squad:

    Rep. Rick Brattin (r): Ready! Fire! Aim!

    It was one bill among several he introduced yesterday with a similar, shall we say, punitive nature.

  14. 14
    Amir Khalid says:

    The European authorities are quite right to forbid the sale of these drugs to American prisons departments. Capital punishment is wrong and no company should profit from it. But I also wonder why no American company has seized the opportunity and started making generic versions of them.

  15. 15
    MattF says:

    I suppose this doesn’t violate the Eighth Amendment, since it’s cruel but not unusual.

  16. 16
    The Tragically Flip says:

    they put out a statement that said the manner in which McGuire was put to death was more humane than the brutal way he had murdered Joy.

    Hooray, as long as we’re more humane than whatever psychopath we’re executing, we’re all good. By this standard, we could have ordered Dahmer’s execution by mop & broom beating to death since that’s more humane than what Dahmer did to his victims.

  17. 17
    Belafon says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Members of Stewart’s family were present at his execution, and before it they put out a statement that said the manner in which McGuire was put to death was more humane than the brutal way he had murdered Joy.

    It’s hard to do is the right thing when other people do the wrong thing. When we decide that we no longer have to do the right thing because it makes us feel better, then we have failed as humans.

  18. 18
    Ash Can says:

    And exactly how is this not a textbook instance of “cruel and unusual punishment?”

    The death penalty is not justice, it’s vengeance. It’s exactly the kind of thing a justice system should prevent. Just lock the criminal up for life. Afraid said criminal might escape? Fix your security issues. Period. Everything else is bullshit.

  19. 19
    Poopyman says:

    @Sasha: @Belafon: This is why murder is a crime against The State, rather than a family or individual. The slow grinding of the wheels of justice are supposed to be devoid of emotion. Too bad that all gets forgotten.

    Having said that, I’m very much in favor of abolishing the death penalty, given the number of known innocents convicted of capital crimes by that same “emotionless” State.

  20. 20
    Poopyman says:

    And DPM’s “by the way” at the end should really be the nut of the matter. Taking 100 doses of a hard to come by drug away from people who really need it just to kill a guy. Bravo, Ohio.

  21. 21
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Elizabelle: I don’t blame the victim’s family for their attitude toward the proceedings. Hell, if it were my family member, I’d want to skin the son of a bitch alive. But that doesn’t reflect the character I want for my government. I’m with you; the death penalty is wrong. It demeans everyone who participates in it.

  22. 22
    Elizabelle says:

    @sparrow:

    I agree with you there. Life without parole is cheaper, and costs Mr. McGuire most of his future.

    I think the death penalty is immoral, too. Did not always feel that way, but came to that view years back.

    However:

    @Cermet: Most interesting about altitude chambers.

    Suspect the worst part of the death penalty is the years of wondering when it will be carried out, and the final weeks, days and hours.

  23. 23
    Belafon says:

    @Poopyman: Totally agree.

  24. 24
    Elizabelle says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    If I lost a loved one to murder or even accidental death, I would hope that over time, I could come to forgive the murderer/responsible party. Sincerely forgive.

    Am always amazed at people who can do that soon after the crime. Such humanity.

  25. 25
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Members of Stewart’s family were present at his execution, and before it they put out a statement that said the manner in which McGuire was put to death was more humane than the brutal way he had murdered Joy.

    Were they anticipating that they would get to watch McGuire spending his last 25 minutes choking and gasping for air? I suspect that few could eat up so generous a helping of vengeance.

  26. 26
    Karen in GA says:

    Members of Stewart’s family were present at his execution, and before it they put out a statement

    I wonder how they feel about it now that they’ve seen it. I actually hope they’re still okay with the execution, just because otherwise they’re suffering with this now, on top of all of the other pain they’re dealing with. And them being miserable about it doesn’t change anything now.

    But I’m naive enough to think that, other than people with military training, humans just aren’t wired to sit and watch another human die like that, no matter how heinous that other human’s actions.

  27. 27
    lawguy says:

    Although I am against the death penalty, if it has to happen why does the state not simply use heroin? God knows they have enough of it for free and it is (if given in a large enough dose) painless and sure. Finally, before someone says that one can’t be sure if it is up to the standards necessary, one must ask what standards? They test these drugs constantly. They know the strength of the drugs they confiscate.

    Let me make my point clear, I do not think that the state should be in the business of executing people, but if they insist on it then why not this way?

  28. 28
    Amir Khalid says:

    @lawguy:
    I guess they don’t want the condemned to die happy.

  29. 29
    Roger Moore says:

    @shortstop:

    As I understand it, that’s actually about the most humane version of a barbaric policy.

    We could come up with much less painful ways of executing people, but there’s a real worry that any new method will be subject to endless court challenges. Of course, giving up on capital punishment is apparently not an option to some people.

  30. 30
    Elizabelle says:

    from Wikipedia:

    Midazolam[1] (/mɪˈdæzəlæm/, marketed in English-speaking countries and Mexico under the trade names Dormicum,[2] Hypnovel,[3] and Versed,[4]) is a short-acting drug in the benzodiazepine class developed by Hoffmann-La Roche in the 1970s.[5] The drug is used for treatment of acute seizures, moderate to severe insomnia, and for inducing sedation and amnesia before medical procedures. It possesses profoundly potent anxiolytic, amnestic, hypnotic, anticonvulsant, skeletal muscle relaxant, and sedative properties.[6][7][8] Midazolam has a fast recovery time and is the most commonly used benzodiazepine as a premedication for sedation; less commonly it is used for induction and maintenance of anesthesia

    .

    Wiki later notes this drug is being used more in veterinary medicine too, since it’s water soluble.

    If this drug is in short supply for its beneficial uses, yet being stockpiled to use in executions, I would say that’s a moral problem on its own.

  31. 31
    Elizabelle says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    It would be interesting to know, wouldn’t it?

    I could not get over the graciousness of the Amish community’s response when that guy gunned down their schoolkids a few years back.

  32. 32
    Elizabelle says:

    PS: When I saw dpm’s headline, One Dead in Ohio?

    I assumed it was a school shooting.

  33. 33
    kindness says:

    I have mentioned guillotine in the past but it was my usual snark more than a hope.

    I’m one of those odd libs who does believe that some people do deserve the death penalty for particularly heinous acts. How to do it so that a society isn’t as barbaric as the act? I don’t know. I don’t. Pretty gruesome no matter what.

  34. 34
    bjacques says:

    On the other hand, that rape and murder are no longer sensitive subjects, maybe not even in front of the victim’s family if they’re still satisfied with the execution. Why? Because now it’s even-steven. In fact, the execution cancels out the crime, so it’s like neither happened.

    Those who want the death penalty can choke on it.

    And, yes, under the law, the killer was entitled to a pain-free execution.

  35. 35
    nancy graham says:

    I am opposed to capital punishment but euthanasia by veterinarians seems to be a painless and humane procedure. Over my 70 years I have had to “put down” 3 beloved dogs and 2 beloved cats. They all died peacefully as I held them.

    Perhaps someone with a better understanding of pharmacology can explain why the same drugs can’t be used in executions.

  36. 36
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Elizabelle:
    I got the musical reference right away.

  37. 37
    Chris says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    It is if you’re a conservative.

    They’re sadistic, but they’re not crazy, so they’re not going to go around inflicting pain on random citizens. No, find somebody who according to society deserves the pain, and then dump it all on him/her.

    Prisoners.

    Welfare recipients.

    The unemployed.

    Illegal immigrants.

  38. 38
    The Tragically Flip says:

    @kindness:

    I’m one of those odd libs who does believe that some people do deserve the death penalty for particularly heinous acts.

    You can make a reasonably defensible moral argument that certain people “deserve” death. The primary reason to oppose the death penalty is that it fails to achieve any useful and legitimate societal aims (e.g. fails as a deterrent), and incurs significant social costs.

    Aside from the biggie of inevitably executing innocent people (Cameron Todd Willingham), it turns out the Death Penalty is really useful for Police to extract false confessions from murder suspects who, fearing for their lives in an uncertain justice system, opt to plea out and avoid the death penalty.

    Frontline did a program on four sailors who were so convicted for a murder none of them were involved with. As long as the death penalty exists, cops are going to tell suspects “you’d better confess or we’re going to fry you” and a good number of people will break.

  39. 39
    GregB says:

    It is rather grossly ironic how the far right and the near right are driven to paranoid fantasies about how America is on the threshold of a left wing *Nazi style mass killing spree when it is they that use the levers of state to mete out death to the citizens of this nation.

    Look at the states that kill people with frequency and they are almost solely in the red state column.

    Blue state after blue state have actually abolished death penalty in the last few decades.

    *Not calling Nazism a left wing movement

  40. 40
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @GregB: Some states never had it.

  41. 41
    Mike in NC says:

    I’ve read that there’s been a lot of grumbling in states with Republican governors and/or majority legislatures, where the death penalty exists, that there are too damn many people sitting on Death Row who ought to be disposed of ASAP. Probably just another one of those ideas ALEC has been pushing.

    But if somebody can figure out a way to make a profit from it (ticket sales to the general public?), we’ll see a spike in executions nationwide.

  42. 42
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Elizabelle:

    If I lost a loved one to murder or even accidental death, I would hope that over time, I could come to forgive the murderer/responsible party. Sincerely forgive.

    Maybe it’s because I’m a godless heathen, but I don’t get that. I admire it, but there’s something fundamental about it that I don’t understand.

    I do understand the need to let go of hate and anger because failure to do so will eat you up inside and therefore compound the injury to you. But I don’t feel the need to sincerely forgive someone who’s seriously wronged me.

    My best case scenario in such a horrible situation would be to get to the point where I could say, “To hell with him” and to successfully resolve to NOT let him occupy space in my head rent-free. This differs from true forgiveness in many ways, including the likelihood that I’d rejoice at the news of his death or misfortune but wouldn’t actively try to cause it.

  43. 43
    MikeJ says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I can’t find any state that never had it, but Michigan and Wisconsin abolished it in the mid 19th century.

    http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.or.....th-penalty

  44. 44
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @MikeJ: My bad.

  45. 45
    GregB says:

    @lawguy:

    Most states refuse to fund the pre-execution Jazz lessons.

  46. 46
    Poopyman says:

    @Elizabelle: Me too, but frankly I also rationalized that a single victim hardly warrants a post anymore. I now haz a sad.

  47. 47
    MikeJ says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Wisconsin abolished it only 5 years after being admitted to the union. It didn’t take them long to figure it out.

  48. 48
    Patrick says:

    @Elizabelle:

    I totally understand how the family feels. But our society/laws should not be based on people’s emotions. It should be based on what’s the right thing to do.

    There are numerous examples of states that have executed a guy that had nothing to do with the crime whatsoever.

    It is also MUCH cheaper for society to lock somebody up forever instead of executing them.

    Our country is in strange company when it comes to the death penalty; most of the democratic countries in the world got rid of the death penalty a long time ago. Instead, we are in bed with countries like Iran and North Korea who also have the death penalty.

  49. 49
    Sly says:

    @Amir Khalid:
    It’s not by virtue of any law in Europe; in 2011, the Danish manufacturer of Nembutal, Lundbeck, voluntarily stopped selling it to state governments in the U.S. after a public outcry in Denmark (including a divestment campaign), and Nembutal is the only brand of pentobarbital that is approved for sale in the United States. Lundbeck even forbids American distributors from reselling it to prisons as part of their distribution agreements.

  50. 50
    Sly says:

    @Amir Khalid:
    It’s not by virtue of any law in Europe; in 2011, the Danish manufacturer of Nembutal, Lundbeck, voluntarily stopped selling it to state governments in the U.S. after a public outcry in Denmark (including a divestment campaign), and Nembutal is the only brand of pentobarbital that is approved for sale in the United States. Lundbeck even forbids American distributors from reselling it to prisons as part of their distribution agreements.

  51. 51
    MattF says:

    @Betty Cracker: Heathen here too. My understanding is that forgiveness is an other-worldly virtue, good for your soul but not otherwise applicable to reality. Forgiveness is certainly one’s privilege, but if you expect some non-spiritual benefit from it, you’re misunderstanding something.

  52. 52
    The Dangerman says:

    @kindness:

    I’m one of those odd libs who does believe that some people do deserve the death penalty for particularly heinous acts.

    I shed no tears when McVeigh stopped using valuable air.

  53. 53
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Sly:
    I stand corrected. Thank you.

  54. 54
    MikeJ says:

    @The Dangerman: I have no doubt he was guilty, and he certainly deserved it if anyone does. The corners the prosecution cut on his conviction were sickening though.

  55. 55
    Sloane Ranger says:

    @Cermet: Michael Portillo did a programme about the death penalty a few years ago. He researched the alternatives and came to the same conclusion. He reported his findings to a US politician/prosecutor (can’t remember which) and appeared quite put out when the man’s response made clear he didn’t really want a painless way of killing people. What he wanted was a painful way of killing people that seemed painless to observers. Seems this was also what the prosecutor wanted in this case.

    Interesting I was discussing the disappearance of a small boy which has made national headlines here in the UK with my Uncle and Aunt this lunchtime. My Aunt said that if he had been killed, whoever did it should be hanged. As they are both quite right wing, my Uncle more so than my Aunt, I said that there was always the danger of making a mistake. To my surprise, my Uncle agreed and volunteered that mistakes had happened in the past. He said that if the boy was dead, his killer should be locked up and the key thrown away.

  56. 56
    NonyNony says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Would you believe some people are calling for a return of the guillotine!

    The guillotine would probably be more humane than some of the drugs they pump them with.

    Sedatives to knock them out, then the guillotine to administer the fatal blow? I have a hard time seeing a clean swipe of the blade as being less humane than what McGuire apparently went through.

    Messier though. Definitely more brutal to the psyches of the folks who have to administer it and the folks who watch it. But maybe killing someone should be messy and brutal to the people involved in it, even if it’s a State-sanctioned killing.

  57. 57
    Betty Cracker says:

    @The Dangerman: I don’t shed tears for the McVeighs of the world either, but I don’t want to be implicated in their deaths. My opposition to the death penalty has nothing to do with sympathy for killers. It’s more of a two wrongs don’t make a right thing.

  58. 58
    CaseyL says:

    The only people who “need” to be executed are the recidivist monsters who will do it again if they ever get loose – like Ted Bundy, the multiply-murdering escape artist. How many Death Row inmates meet that description is an open question; my guess would be, vanishingly few.

    I think the question about using veterinary euthanasial drugs for capital punishment has come up before. IIRC, the issue is that the drugs don’t work the same way on humans.

  59. 59
    Shinobi (@shinobi42) says:

    I mean, I’ve never died, obviously, but wouldn’t a shot to the head be actually more humane than this?? 25 minutes? HORRIBLE>

    Where are the pro-lifers when you need them?

  60. 60
    Matt says:

    @Chris: True, but “people who deserve it” has recently been expanded to include “anybody who cops feel like torturing with electricity”.

  61. 61
    The Dangerman says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I don’t shed tears for the McVeighs of the world either, but I don’t want to be implicated in their deaths.

    I hear ya, but there are some people that well deserve their fate; from my viewpoint, ending McVeigh’s days was little different then sending Bin Laden along. Similar crime (roughly, very roughly), similar ending.

  62. 62

    “You’re not entitled to a pain-free execution”

    You’re also not entitled to a trial by jury, or a speedy and public trial, or the assistance of counsel, or to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure. I mean really, where in the Constitution does it say any of this?

  63. 63
    PurpleGirl says:

    @NonyNony:

    more brutal to the psyches of the folks who have to administer it

    That’s why when a firing squad is used, there are several shooters but only one live round and it is given randomly to a shooter so they don’t know who had the live round and actually killed the prisoner.

  64. 64
    CaseyL says:

    @PurpleGirl: Is that really how it’s done? I’d think the odds of wounding rather than killing the condemned, or of missing the target altogether, would be pretty high under those circumstances.

  65. 65
    catclub says:

    @shortstop: Agreed. As long as you don’t charge the heirs for the bullet.

  66. 66
    MikeJ says:

    @CaseyL: I’ve heard it with both one live round and one blank round. Either way, trained marksmen with rifles should be able to kill a stationary target from the distance used. The officer in charge is also (sometimes) allowed to give a coup de grâce if death isn’t instant.

  67. 67
    WereBear says:

    My own thoughts have been utterly shaped by the twists and turns of the whole Barbara Graham story.

    My first encounter was the movie Susan Hayward won an Oscar for, I Want to Live! which depicted Barbara Graham as an innocent woman framed for murder by her compatriots in an admitted crime of robbery.

    But it turned out she WAS responsible for the brutal beating death of an elderly widow.

    And then I read a work uploaded to that public domain source for such (which I can’t remember) but it was a journalist detailing her early life as background for a book that never got written, so it’s out there. And it was heartbreaking… time after time her psychotic mother blocked any help or nurturance of hope in her life, until she morphed from troubled teen to bitter divorcee and unhappy mother herself.

    But not really a bad person… until the night she snapped and beat another woman to death in a failed robbery. Now, there are people, like Jeffrey Dahmer, who are puzzling simply because they don’t have an abusive background. Then there are people, like Perry Smith, who have terribly troubled backgrounds without getting much of a break… and then they break.

    So yes, “Bloody Babs’ was a murderer. And yes… she did break under mistreatment. Does this deserve the death penalty? Do we snuff out these lives, and leave their redemption as human beings, if possible, to their next one?

  68. 68
    catclub says:

    @CaseyL: “vanishingly few.” Well, he did escape.

  69. 69
    Interrobang says:

    Someone murdered a relative of mine and is now serving a goodly long prison sentence. I don’t want him executed; that would still be wrong.

    I think that if you want to be forgiven for something, you’d better be able to fix it or atone for it to the person you’ve wronged, and there’s no fixing this, so as far as I’m concerned, there’s no question of “forgiveness” in my mind. On the other hand, I’m not letting the guy live rent-free in my head either, as Betty said.

  70. 70
    Cervantes says:

    About the prosecutor:

    Thomas E. Madden is senior assistant attorney general in the Criminal Justice Section, Capital Crimes Unit of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. Since December 2005, he has defended death penalty appeals in all stages before federal courts and assists county prosecutors in various phases of death penalty prosecutions, clemencies, and appeals. Tom argues regularly before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Before his current position, Tom was assistant attorney general in the Ohio AG office’s Health and Human Services Section, bringing charges against chiropractors, doctors, and other healthcare providers for breaching Ohio’s regulations and laws. He also previously worked as an assistant prosecuting attorney in the Fayette County Office of the Prosecuting Attorney.

    Tom earned his J.D. from the University of Kentucky College of Law and his B.A. from Bellarmine College in Louisville, Ky.

    In his spare time, Tom plays pitch-and-catch, goes fishing, hikes, or takes horse-back riding with his rather rambunctious sons, Paul Kelley and Patrick.

    His boss is our old friend Mike DeWine, so don’t expect too much, but if you want to express your view:

    Office of the Attorney-General
    30 E. Broad St., 14th Floor
    Columbus, OH 43215

    Or call 614.466.4986

  71. 71
    ericblair says:

    @CaseyL:

    The only people who “need” to be executed are the recidivist monsters who will do it again if they ever get loose – like Ted Bundy, the multiply-murdering escape artist. How many Death Row inmates meet that description is an open question; my guess would be, vanishingly few.

    My guess is that Republican state governments figure they need to kill em now before some bleeding heart Democrats manage to get elected and let all the convicted murderers go free right after they gay marry everybody and force them to have abortions.

  72. 72
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    Capital punishment is state sponsored vengeance and homicide. And it’s a shanda that states are stockpiling midazolam for homicide when it’s a useful medication in short supply for those who need it.

  73. 73
    WereBear says:

    And now, a new book, from 2013, has documentation that Barbara Graham was, in fact, innocent.

    And there you are.

  74. 74
    🎂 Martin says:

    It would have been faster to just kick the guy to death. For all we know it might have been more humane as well.

    The more I go, the more I think the death penalty is really designed to condition the electorate to disvalue life to a sufficient degree to make it acceptable to destroy other lives in less drastic ways. Once the public has to accept that horrible murderers deserve 3 meals a day, a safe place to live, and healthcare, they might get in in their head that poor people deserve that as well.

  75. 75
    Poopyman says:

    Does anyone remember Gary Gilmore?

  76. 76
  77. 77
  78. 78
    Keith G says:

    In theory I do not have a problem with the death penalty as a punishment for a few very serious crimes involving the death of another human being. And, I really don’t care how such a sanction would be carried out. I don’t care how they get dead.

    Problems crop up when theory meets the real world. There is no capital punishment process that I can see in existence that can guarantee equal treatment to all people to aggressively and completely refute the charges against them regardless of income, ethnicity, gender, or other differentiating characteristics.

    Therefore, it doesn’t matter how good or how bad the drugs are the process is unconscionable and should be stopped.

  79. 79
    chopper says:

    @The Tragically Flip:

    there’s also the argument that, even if a criminal does ‘deserve death’, is it really a power we should grant to the government to put its own citizens to death when other reasonable options exist?

  80. 80
    Roger Moore says:

    @Sloane Ranger:

    What he wanted was a painful way of killing people that seemed painless to observers.

    I’m not the least bit surprised. There’s a strong association between those who favor capital punishment and those who see punishment as the major purpose of the criminal justice system. They want to execute people not because it does a better job of protecting society from the people we execute but because they see it as the ultimate punishment for those who deserve it. The only way to make execution worse is to make it slower and more painful, but that’s not politically acceptable, so they have to go for a method that looks painless but isn’t.

  81. 81
    Gene108 says:

    @Cris (without an H):

    I think the Constitution works like Parley in the Pirate Code. A general guideline with no hard and fast rules.

  82. 82
    geg6 says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I agree with you, Betty. But I think you are over thinking it. I think those who go the forgiveness route are just doing the same you and I would probably do, knowing that our lives would be eaten up and ruined by anger and frustration over the murder of our loved one. You and I would think rationally about it and realize we needed to move past that in order to continue to live the best life possible after such an event. They call it forgiveness and do the same. It’s actually one of the useful things religionists can get from their religions, I think. It makes it easier for them to do the rational thing because it’s their god telling them that is the good thing to do. Can’t really think of many other good things from religion, but this might be one.

  83. 83
    cmorenc says:

    I’m in favor of a version of the death penalty that mandates a full “civil death” of the person rather than “physical death” – a spartan life deprived of most further signficant interaction with other people, though not full solitary confinement. For purposes of everyone outside their lawyers and the judicial system, they are effectively dead in every other way – e.g. no visitors or other kinds of mail or further communication with the outside world except through their lawyers relevant to any further appeal of their case. Kind of like what people in “supermax” federal penitentiaries are subject to.

  84. 84
    Faux News says:

    @the Conster: 1814 I think

  85. 85
    Glocksman says:

    @Keith G:

    100% agreed.

    If the justice system fucks up and convicts an innocent man and sentences him to life without parole, he always can be released when exculpatory evidence comes to light.

    Outside of Lord Voldemort, I don’t believe any dead people have come back.

  86. 86
    lawguy says:

    Another thought about this whole thing, is that I really expect my government to act in a more humane way than some crazed psychopathic killer.

    There is another thing: When we go to the victims family to determine if the means of death is ok, isn’t that a version of Sharia law, where the victims family gets to decided if the execution is ok or not?

  87. 87
    Mnemosyne says:

    @MattF:

    Forgiveness is certainly one’s privilege, but if you expect some non-spiritual benefit from it, you’re misunderstanding something.

    I realize we’re getting into the philosophical weeds, but the benefits of forgiveness are psychological, not strictly “spiritual.” An atheist can benefit just as much from refusing to let someone take up space in their head as a theist can.

    The article I linked to above is interesting because he points out that forgiveness actually is the process of letting go of the day-to-day anger. Reconciliation is a totally different process that usually gets conflated with forgiveness — if you’ve forgiven him, why don’t you let him back into your life? But they really are two different things and it’s perfectly valid for people to forgive someone (i.e. let go of their anger and stop thinking about the person) without having to reconcile with them (i.e. have some kind of contact with them or think well of them).

  88. 88
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Members of Stewart’s family were present at his execution, and before it they put out a statement that said the manner in which McGuire was put to death was more humane than the brutal way he had murdered Joy.

    That’s all well and good, and I feel for their loss, but their opinion doesn’t actually matter, because the justice system is not in the business of state-sponsored vendettas.

    @Amir Khalid:

    I also wonder why no American company has seized the opportunity and started making generic versions of them.

    Are there American pharma companies that do no business outside of the US? The whole reason a bunch of backward killin’ states went to compounding pharmacies was because a place whose main business is making tuna-flavoured antibiotics for cats doesn’t really risk broad sanction.

  89. 89
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Elizabelle:

    The guillotine was originally adopted, believe it or not, as a “more humane” way to dispatch those condemned to death.

    @lawguy:

    is that I really expect my government to act in a more humane way than some crazed psychopathic killer.

    When the government is under the control of Rethuglicans, this is what you get. Crazed psychopathic killers (think William Edward Hickman) doing what they do best.

  90. 90
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Mnemosyne: Interesting. I think there’s a difference between “letting go” and “forgiveness.” For example, I can let go of something, stop giving a person mind space and still hope somewhere in the back of my mind that they die in a fire. Or I can forgive someone, bearing no malice toward them, even if I don’t want reconciliation. It’s a fine distinction, but I think it’s real.

  91. 91
    Ruckus says:

    @kindness:
    Deserve it? Sure maybe some. Which ones? Your choice, my choice?
    So what? That still doesn’t make it something we should condone our government doing. I don’t want to kill anyone and I don’t want it done in my name.
    And a lifetime in prison is a cakewalk? I went to school(K-12) with someone still in prison for violent murder. And that was a long, long time ago. Isn’t killing anyone else, hasn’t had a family or a job or a life. Gets to think about the cost of the act every day for a long time. Killing them is too good for them.

  92. 92
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I guess I would say (after my multiple years of psychotherapy ;-) that if you still hope in the back of your mind that the jerk DIAF someday, you haven’t actually let go and they’re still renting space in your head, even if that space is tiny.

  93. 93
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Mnemosyne: I dunno. Maybe, but my personal experience leads me to believe otherwise. Several years ago, I found out someone who had done a really awful thing to me had died, and I was glad to hear it. I hadn’t thought of that person in years, and I honestly don’t think I carried a soul-corroding grudge. But I was happy there was one less evil son of a bitch in the world.

    Similarly, if I heard on the radio that Rush Limbaugh dropped dead, I might very well dance a jig, but I don’t spend time actively wishing him harm or even thinking about him at all.

  94. 94
    Ruckus says:

    @Betty Cracker:
    I get not thinking about them but not caring if they no longer exist. I think it is that we are all wired just a little bit different. I can see the other side of having to forgive or having it eat at you. Ends up working the same, just a different way to get there. You let it go by not giving a shit, they let it go by pushing comfortably out of their heads. Whatever works.

  95. 95
    Studly Pantload, the emotionally unavailable unicorn says:

    @Cermet: “This whole thing is beyond insane; a simple altitude chamber would be humane, low cost and fool-proof.”

    I get what you’re saying — hell, I wish I could pre-order that very kind of death for myself for when my times comes. But ANY human-run system, by the most basic laws of nature, cannot be foolproof. Which means so long as we continue to sanction state executions, we will continue to off some folks here and there who we might later find were actually innocent.

    But the perp behind bars for life, he/she’s out of our hair, no longer able hurt undeserving citizens. And if later we should find out the perp is innocent — well, it’s much easier to spring a live person from jail than to try to re-animate a decades old corpse with the state’s apologies.

  96. 96
    Glocksman says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Versed’s what the druggies call ‘good shit’.
    I’ve had it administered several times over the years during surgical procedures (and once for kidney stones, oddly enough), and it works as advertised.

    I didn’t remember anything between the anesthesiologist saying ‘I’m going to give you something that might make you sleepy’ and waking up in the recovery room afterwards.

    In one of life’s little ironies, the heart surgeon who put in my artificial valve is now my Congressman.
    Unfortunately he’s a teabagger favorite.
    Dr. Buschon’s a great surgeon and a lousy Congressman.

  97. 97
    Elizabelle says:

    @Glocksman:

    That’s funny about the surgeon turned Congresscritter. Shoulda stuck with heart repairs, huh?

    Good to know re Versed.

  98. 98
    coin operated says:

    @Glocksman: Happy you had a pain free surgery, but there is more than one account of individuals waking up mid-procedure. I could not imagine a more perfect version of hell on earth myself, other than being executed when innocent of the crime.

    To the topic at hand…we need to abolish this barbaric practice. There is no measurable level of deterrence (hello…China), and it’s significantly cheaper to incarcerate them for life. And I’m in the “1000 guilty men go free” camp when it comes to this.

  99. 99
    LongHairedWeirdo says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Maybe it’s because I’m a godless heathen, but I don’t get that. I admire it, but there’s something fundamental about it that I don’t understand.

    A friend of mine said that the roots of the word “forgive” hearken back to the notion of “debt forgiveness”.

    “You hurt me, and I forgive you” is the same word roots as “you owe me fifty bucks – forget it, you don’t owe me anything any more.”

    In that sense – the idea that you no longer demand something from a person – forgiveness makes a lot of sense.

    If a killer makes me lust for vengeance, that killer has power over me. It doesn’t matter that it’s not a very useful power, it is still power. It’s still something controlling me that isn’t me. And if I can forgive that killer, then I am free of that power.

    Note that I might still feel I have to do something unpleasant to that killer (maybe even kill him to prevent further deaths) but it’s based upon my choices, my desires, my *self* – not based upon something he’s got on me.

  100. 100
    LongHairedWeirdo says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Of course it was; it’s hard to kill someone quickly and humanely. So they reserved beheading for big, important people. For poor folks? Hang by the neck until dead is a kindness. (Keep in mind that modern hangings are usually carefully calculated to break the neck cleanly, which should very quickly lead to unconsciousness and death – but neck muscles can keep an airway open for a surprisingly long time otherwise, and strangulation is *awful*.)

    Honestly, if we’re going to execute people, I think the guillotine is a good idea. It’s swift, humane, and really, really ugly. Find a vein, stick a needle in, push a few buttons? That looks civilized, the “red mass” does not.

    Alas, I think people would swiftly get used to the idea, and find even worse things to be more acceptable.

  101. 101
    Paul in KY says:

    I agree that the condemned is not entitled to a ‘pain free execution’. It should be quite quick and final, but not necessarily pain free. It can be pain free, but it does not have to be, IMO.

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