Another execution by experimental drug cocktail goes horribly wrong


I don’t understand this secret mixture of drugs bit. I’m really opposed to the death penalty in the first place, but I don’t understand why it’s not a morphine overdose, plain and simple. It’s not a bad way to pass, if you have to go.

That all happened in 2011 and now states that want to keep executing people are turning to proprietary cocktails of drugs that have not been tested (**on animals**)...
Well, it has now! Ayyyyyy...

What, too soon?

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Yeah, surely we have plenty of knowledge of how to execute people efficiently? After all, there was all that research carried out in the 1940s… I can only assume Arizona authorities have decided to repeat some of the classic German experiments as a hobby.


My understanding is that it’s because they can’t get a doctor to write for it, plus the whole vomiting/aspirating/convulsing thing that seems to be a part of opiate overdoses maybe doesn’t seem that pleasant.

Why they don’t do a 100% Nitrogen atmosphere (which doesn’t trigger the gasping for breath reflex the way CO2 does), however, I’m not sure.


The whole hospital-room setting for modern executions is just window dressing to make us feel more “civilized.” I’m opposed to capital punishment but if you’re going to do it then just show it for what it is and bring back the headsman’s axe.


Barbiturates, including sodium thiopental and pentobarbital, infused into the bloodstream can quickly make a person go deeply unconscious, stop breathing and die. Dr. Mark J. Heath, an anesthesiologist at Columbia University and an expert on lethal injection, said that high doses of pentobarbital were routinely used to euthanize animals, from pet rabbits to beached whales.

Barbiturates alone have been used in 71 executions, in Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Missouri, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas and Washington, said Jennifer Moreno, a lawyer with the Death Penalty Clinic at Berkeley Law School.

Even though Dr. Heath opposes lethal injection, he said, “I have not seen a single complaint, not an unhappy warden or family or anybody, from the single-drug barbiturate approach.”

But he said that switching to a single drug would not fix all the problems with lethal injection because intravenous lines would still be needed. Starting them can be difficult and requires medical skill.

In later years, Dr. Chapman (ed: originator of the three drug protocol) said that if he had it to do over again, he would probably recommend using just a barbiturate, and omit the paralyzing and heart-stopping drugs. But his protocol has lingered.


I have many oppositions to the death penalty. I am proud to have fought for its repeal in my state, Maryland.

I think the only way to change the minds of the majority of Americans who still believe we should have it is to employ firing squads.

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I am completely against the death penalty, but if we are going to do it, we should at least do it right, which is utterly trivial. You can’t fuck up a N2 or CO chamber. Just leave them in for a few hours, then check vitals. It is perfectly painless. They just feel sleepy, pass out, and die. If you want to be 100% sure and don’t mind a little mess, go with the old classic, a guillotine. A modern guillotine could be made absolutely fool proof and essentially immune to mechanical failure. Lethal injection has to be the hardest least sure method and the easiest to fuck up.


How about a choice? Kinda like the last meal.


I’m not sure if the risk of vomiting/aspirating/convulsing is really a risk. I only have my own experiences to go on, but I nursed for ten years in geriatric psych. Any given week we had a handful of patients on hospice care with morphine as a part of that. I am sure that morphine toxicity got some of them before their conditions did, and it was always peaceful. In all of the patients we did this with, I’ve never seen anyone vomit/aspirate/convulse. It’s part of standard hospice care across the country.

If it works so well with our elderly to be a part of standard care, then I’m not sure why we have to mix up a cocktail that obviously doesn’t work.

And citizens who support the death penalty can all be called up to participate - much like jury duty.

I suspect some (many?) would rethink their position if faced with actually participating first-hand.

It’s like meat-eaters who are “grossed out” by actually handling or seeing raw meat.


Americans seem to love complicated machines to do simple tasks. Perhaps this is another hangover from the 19th century.

As far as I am aware, no other country in the world uses “voting machines” - they use a piece of paper and a pencil.

I, too, am 100% opposed to the death penalty but agree that a guillotine, single bullet to the back of the head, or CO chamber is preferable to the current horrorshow. This is not a medical procedure - why pretend it is?


Because deep down inside, death penalty proponents want these people to suffer horrible, twisted, painful deaths as retribution for their crimes.


I think the underlying problem is that in spite of a constitutional clause forbidding ‘cruel and unusual punishment,’ we have a judicial system that prefers retribution and vengeance over justice. Therefore, any method of execution can’t be “pleasant” or too “easy” for the convicted. Because Tough on CrimeTM. Or some other petty barbarity.


I completely agree with that. I am deeply opposed to the death penalty, and the way the current judicial system deals with criminal behavior.


Excellent dissenting opinion. If we’re going to continue this barbaric practice why hide it behind a mask of medical legitimacy?

"The fight over the Arizona execution has also attracted attention because of a dissenting judge’s comments that made a case for a firing squad as a more humane method of execution.

“The guillotine is probably best but seems inconsistent with our national ethos. And the electric chair, hanging and the gas chamber are each subject to occasional mishaps. The firing squad strikes me as the most promising,” wrote Alex Kozinski, the 9th Circuit’s chief judge. “Using drugs meant for individuals with medical needs to carry out executions is a misguided effort to mask the brutality of executions by making them look serene and peaceful - like something any one of us might experience in our final moment.”"


Someone sent me a link to the CNN version of the story yesterday. Even before reading it I predicted someone would defend torturing this guy by bringing up his victim(s). I wasn’t wrong because Governor Jan Brewer had this to say:

“One thing is certain, however, inmate Wood died in a lawful manner and by eyewitness and medical accounts he did not suffer. This is in stark comparison to the gruesome, vicious suffering that he inflicted on his two victims – and the lifetime of suffering he has caused their family”

Considering as the governor, you’re responsible for executions, I guess the state should execute you horribly too Governor Brewer.


I have mixed emotions about the death penalty. I oppose it except in extreme cases such as the murder and rape of children. As previously mentioned, if you can not do it right then do not do it at all. There are too many easy ways for someone to die without being tortured, it is inexcusable.

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For me the question has never been so much about “what do these convicts deserve?” so much as “how much power do I want the criminal justice system to have?”

The police and the courts never struck me as anywhere near competent/fair/infallible enough to grant them the ultimate power over life and death.