Arizona tried to illegally import an execution drug not approved for use in U.S

I can understand supporting the death penalty - it’s not so long ago I changed my mind on that subject. But some people seem to thirst for blood.

1 Like

8th amendment. That’s actually one of the reasons why these states are scrambling so hard to get their traditional drugs, even from untraditional sources: if they just cook up some random cocktail, they risk a ‘cruel and unusual’ challenge(where the courts are more likely to defer to the cocktail with precedent, even if it’s actually needlessly perverse and fairly gruesome by the standards of what a competent anesthesiologist could do); and if they screw up(as in the cases where they substituted midazolapam, despite its limitations as a sedative) they could lose lethal injection entirely to 8th amendment challenges and/or public distaste.


I don’t have a problem with the death penalty per se(and I’d personally take it over life in prison any day); but our implementation, both in terms of execution technique and in judicial process, is so ghastly that I find it hard to support letting us use it until those are cleaned up.

Unfortunately, all my concerns(except ‘execution technique’ which is simply replaced by ‘prison conditions’) are more or less equally present if we abolish the death penalty and just hand out long sentences instead.

As it stands, I have to wonder if a given inmate is actually better off being sentenced to death, rather than to life/a long time, since the death penalty is higher profile and more controversial(which increases the probability of getting assistance from anti-capital-punishment activists and groups); while long prison sentences are much less controversial, and much more common, so you have to make do with the lower odds of getting assistance from people concerned with questionable judicial process in general, rather than the death penalty in particular.

It is, of course, true that you cannot do much to release an executed-then-exonerated inmate, while you can release an imprisoned-then-exonerated one; but that distinction is only meaningful if there is actually some effort put into fact-checking past verdicts; a process that the justice system seems to actively oppose; and Innocence Project and friends have fairly scarce resources to dedicate to.

1 Like

How much is a human life worth to you? I’d say that it’s difficult to call one a humanist if one is okay with the death penalty. But I’m still quite the baby humanist myself. It just seems wrong to allow it. I mean, I can think of perhaps one scenario where it might be justified, but it’s one that would basically require The Joker and Arkham to exist. I can only see myself being okay with execution when the condemned are so immensely dangerous to humanity, and so uncontainable as to let them live essentially is the same as signing off on more deaths. As far as I know that’s never happened. Solitary and SuperMax is pretty effective at completely cutting inmates off from the entire rest of humanity. And I still have my problems with those.

Ideally, I’d rather just figure out a way to insert them into “the matrix” and let them do whatever as long as they’re not able to exert influence on humanity.

The Culture Of Life is strong in this one!

My (theoretical, definitely not as-implemented) willingness to accept the death penalty is really based on two considerations:

This may make me some sort of deviant schismatic ‘humanist’ but my greatest concern is for agency, not life.

Many situations where people are denied (meaningful) agency are also lethal(eg. getting murdered, being a starving refugee, dying of an incurable illness or an injury for which you cannot afford/don’t have access to treatment), so my concern for agency frequently involves support of measures that are intended to save lives; but that’s the secondary factor. This is also why I consider support for access to euthenasia, for those who want it, and abortion to be ‘humanistic’ because, while they are not life-maximizing, they are agency maximizing. I also support the right to (but would tell you that it’s probably not a good plan and I’d personally counsel you against it) engage in crazy-dangerous hobbies like the various flavors of extreme mountaineering and whatnot that kill a slightly alarming percentage of their participants).

On a much less pleasant; but philosophically similar note; I respect the agency of those who commit suitably dire transgressions by punishing them, with life-maximization not being a directly salient factor. My respect for agency(and, y’know “basic justice”) demands that utmost effort be put into correctly identifying and fairly trying perpetrators; but I don’t see it as fundamentally more transgressive to execute someone than to imprison them(especially for long periods).

The other consideration is more of a practical one, and would be amenable to change with improvements in our understanding of psychology and such: at the present time, we simply don’t know how to reform some offenders. In practice, I’d say that our criminal justice system doesn’t even bother to try to reform some comparatively easy targets, which is egregiously unacceptable; but even if we did do our best for everyone, we simply don’t have the knowledge necessary to succeed in all cases.

In the cases we can’t work with, yeah, we can segregate them from society without killing them; but those means of separation, while life-maximizing, are really pretty horrific in other respects. Solitary is well documented to break people with horrifying efficiency; and the social life of a prison full of non-reformable hard cases is also likely to be violent, terrifying, and degrading.

I’m not exactly sneeringly pro-death with mustache twirling; but when it comes down to it I’m interested in life as a (for now) prerequisite for being an agent in the world; not as an end in itself.


1st paragraph:
That seems to me like an external party deciding that a human is too wretched to live. It’s attempting to assume someone’s complete internal state which has unresolvable detail, and seeing that they are suffering beyond any chance of recovery. There is no way logically that their life may get better, much less a practical possibility. I don’t think there’s a proper way to determine that, since we can’t know the future with any certainty. And what if the reformation is against their will. It seems to me awfully rare for people to trust their minds and thoughts to others. At least from my point of view. My brain’s all I got, man. I’d like to have authority over it.

2nd paragraph:
That’s pretty reasonable. I can’t see anything wrong with that.

Both have their strengths and weaknesses. It’s where they clash when the interesting stuff happens. And I think the death penalty is a particularly interesting intersection between these two values.

1 Like

I just kinda realized now that I pick and choose “highest values” from a set list of values when I’m trying to reason humanistically. Sometimes I favor life. Sometimes I favor agency. Also: minimizing pain and suffering, maximizing happiness, and finally bullshitting at preference utilitarianism, which I don’t understand well enough to effectively use, but I have been told that it supposedly figures out an objective order for values-philosophy so that we can move on from our differences on what to value most. Although I can’t remember how it was supposed to work. I need to read up on it.

While both sides of the aisle are fluent in doublespeak, and know how to pick and choose the foundations of their arguments, the right has gotten especially good at it.

A small group of loudmouths proclaim themselves the majority and use numerous right-wing media channels to decry how the liberals control the media.

Gun control is an iron-clad Constitutional right, even though real Constitutional scholars will tell you that the founding fathers recognized that the Constitution was a flawed document full of compromises, and open to change and adaptation.

Equal rights and separation of church and state are states-rights issues. If the state is too liberal, then it is a community issue.

Marriage, abortion and unionization are government matters, unless you agree with the righties, then it is your God-given right to choose.

Judges shamefully legislate from the bench unless they agree with the righties, in which case they are patriotically upholding the Constitution.

Life is sacred, until it reaches the age of execution.

If Jesus showed up anonymously in AZ, Arpaio would either arrest that hippie or run him out of town.

1 Like

On that vein: Nuke them from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure :wink:

As long as you’re happy with publicly endorsing torture i guess and are perfectly happy to forfeit any moral high-ground your country may posses in the world…


I’m 95% against the death penalty myself, but if you’re going to do it it’s trivial to do it utterly painlessly.
A large OD of the anaesthetics typically used in operations would do it (they’ll just lose conciousness and never wake up, job done). I don’t understand how the USA can conceivably make this lethal-injection business so completely unreliable without actively trying to make it so…


I’m trying to decide if this is more or less gruesome than some other historic methods of British execution…

@TacoChucks: I must wonder what people today, on average, think went on at the Colosseum in Rome?

IIRC, this is the justification for keeping Charles Manson behind bars.


So the method must be cruel and unusual to be deemed unconstitutional? Why does it have to be both? Shouldn’t the rule apply to punishment that fits either quality?

So, everyone involved in the acquisition of said illegal drug will be prosecuted vigorously, right? Right?


The title feels a bit misleading. The drug is approved for use in executions in the US. The manufacturers who made this batch is not approved by the FDA. There’s a bit of a difference.

I regret to inform that I woke up to find this forum hates me, and thus has decided I cannot like anyone until further notice. So, to everyone posting on this thread:


My aging memory may be off: isn’t sodium thiopental what we back in the 50s and 60s called “truth serum” because in small doses it was supposed to make the victim unable to lie?

1 Like

From what I understand, Manson is a special case because he was convicted after California abolished the death penalty but before they instituted legislation allowing life sentence without parole.

As a result, Manson is frequently eligible for parole.

However, I do not believe the justification for keeping him behind bars is that he’s an unstoppable killing machine – I think it’s just that whenever he comes up for parole, it’s very clear that he is not reformed and the parole board simply denies parole for good reasons.

I believe @LDoBe meant “uncontainable” in the sense of a brilliant, Lex Luthor-like supercriminal who escapes within weeks every time he is imprisoned. Manson is demonstrably not one of those*.

*Neither is anyone else.


Gary Gilmore was the person that requested (and got) a firing squad. Utah allows that method as of March 2015, with lethal injection apparently being their preferred method.

1 Like