Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 19 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 5/1/15

Why states could be botching executions we'll never know about

By       (Page 1 of 1 pages)   No comments

Tweet from Twitter User sifekyzarer
Tweet from Twitter User sifekyzarer
(Image by Twitter User sifekyzarer)
  Details   DMCA

Imagine your entire body feels like it's on fire, but you're unable to move, scream, or indicate you're in discomfort in any way. The idea may sound farfetched, but it's the gruesome reality of some states' execution protocols.

Writes Dr. Michael Lewis, an anesthesiologist, in today's Tampa Tribune:

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case of Glossip v. Gross from Oklahoma, which challenges the use of the anti-anxiety medication midazolam as a sole anesthetic in lethal injection executions.

Although the safety and efficacy of midazolam is the subject of the U.S. Supreme Court case, it's the next drug in Florida's protocol that concerns me most: the paralytic which prevents the prisoner from showing distress.

Dr. Lewis goes onto say that the use of a paralytic doesn't ease the suffering of the condemned or cause death. Instead, it's administered only to "[mask] pain and suffering"making it nearly impossible to know if the execution is going as planned."

This is important to Glossip v. Gross because it debunks Oklahoma's argument that Florida uses midazolam successfully in executions:

[Oklahoma's] characterization is inaccurate and misleading. America's first execution using midazolam was that of William Happ in Florida in October 2013. It was an unusual event, taking about twice as long as previous executions had. Media witnesses noticed that Happ took longer to lose consciousness and that they saw more body movement than in previous lethal injections.

Happ's execution displayed problems consistent with all the other midazolam botches -- the drug is simply not able to provide a level of unconsciousness, at any dose, that pain can't break through. More importantly, "Florida's impressive track record" of midazolam executions without incident rests entirely upon the use of a drug in lethal injections that is terrifying -- a paralytic agent that prevents us from knowing what the prisoner is experiencing.

So from a lethal injection perspective, midazolam may have potentially caused a number of unrecognized botched executions. As Dr. Lewis puts it:
Under the sheet, on the gurney, through the witness window, Florida's executions may have looked uneventful. Peaceful, even.

But due to Florida's choice to administer paralytics that mask the prisoners' reactions to the drugs they are given, no one will ever know.

Rate It | View Ratings

Jose Cornejo Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Jose Cornejo is a recent graduate from the University of Wisconsin.
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Why states could be botching executions we'll never know about

Law Profs: SCOTUS Should Focus on Risky Execution Drug, Not Activists

Former Attorneys General: Oklahoma's Lethal Injection Process Flawed

Pharmacologist: Oklahoma Can't Square Its Lethal Injection Protocol with Science

SCOTUS Should Find Okla. Execution Drug Protocol Unconstitutional, Say Anesthesiologist and Law Prof

New Report Regarding Use of Midazolam for Executionst: Oklahoma Misleads the Supreme Court

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend