European companies cut off US supply of death penalty drugs

Over the last decade, the drugs used in lethal injection executions in the United States have fallen into short supply, as the mostly European companies that manufacture those drugs cut off their availability in protest of the death penalty. States are beginning to run out of stockpiles of pentobarbital and sodium thiopental. Instead, they're turning to combinations of what drugs are still available. The results could change the case on whether lethal injection represents cruel and unusual punishment. In Ohio last week, a prisoner took 25 minutes to die, struggling and gasping for breath all the while.

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  1. In light of what happened in Ohio, "states will now have more of a burden to show that they are using a well-thought-out best practice," said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, which doesn't take a stand for or against capital punishment.

    1. By not taking a position one stands with the status quo by default
    2. If your foundation that signs your paystubs has the words "Death Penalty" in the title ... and you are discussing "best practice" for the state to kill a person ... you have taken a side.
  2. Bullets are actually fairly unpredictable. People have been point blank shot in the forehead and had the bullet change direction such that it curved around along the inside of the skull and exited out the side. It’s unusual, but it happens. Shotguns are no sure thing either; recall, for instance, the kid who survived a Judas Priest “inspired” suicide pact. (The documentary, Dream Deceivers, is on Youtube.)

    Besides, part of the meta-theater around death penalty executions is the veneer of “civilization.” Sure, we could draw & quarter the condemned or burn them at the stake or behead them, but that would puncture the illusion that we’re fundamentally on a more elevated moral level than Torquemada or Joffrey Baratheon.

  3. It’s not primarily the gruesomeness of executions that makes people stand against the death penalty.

    If I refuse to sell you a gun because I know you plan to murder someone with it, you’re not going to convince me with the argument “If you don’t sell me the gun, I’ll have to use this clawhammer instead!”

  4. Why should it matter? Given the amount of wrongful convictions (i.e. a number greater than zero), the death penalty is clearly, and unarguably wrong (it's wrong anyway, but that's like super-double-secret extra wrong).

  5. Neither "20 years of appeals" nor "admitting to the crime" are proof positive of guilt. Ever read through the list of wrongfully convicted people exonerated by the Innocence Project or other groups? If you support the death penalty, you're going to have to accept that you're handing power over life and death to a fallible system. Get used to it.

    Besides, I find capital punishment barbaric whether the subject is guilty or not. I wouldn't support a system that tortured torturers or raped rapists, because I don't want my government to engage in torture and rape. Why should killing killers be any different?

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