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April 7, 2008

Local court starts examining Ohio's execution protocol

This AP story provides some highlights from the first day of a state court litigation concerning Ohio's lethal injection protocol:

An anesthesiologist testified Monday that Ohio's lethal injection procedure isn't appropriate for dogs or cats, let alone humans. Dr. Mark Heath's testimony on behalf of two murder defendants came in a Lorain County hearing on the constitutionality of state's method for putting prisoners to death.

Heath, an assistant professor of anesthesiology at Columbia University, says it's possible to perform lethal injection of prisoners in a humane manner, but that Ohio's method falls below the standard for euthanizing household pets....

Heath testified that the design of Ohio's death house was problematic because it separates the inmate from the person administering the drugs in two separate rooms.  The rooms are separated by a one-way mirror. “Doing it that way substantially increases the risk of a major problem occurring,” said Heath, adding later, “I would never induce general anesthesia from a different room through long tubing.”...

Difficulties with two executions in recent years, in which the execution team struggled to find suitable veins in inmates' arms, brought complaints that the method is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual.

Ohio officials stand by the procedure. The state was expected to counter with expert witness Dr. Mark Dershwitz, an anesthesiologist from Massachusetts, who will testify via video conference Tuesday.

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April 7, 2008 at 04:51 PM | Permalink


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Wouldn't it be a wonderful moment in American history if the Supreme Court condemned such revolting and immoral discussion to the ashes of shame in the coming days. From my earliest days of learning about the holocaust in Europe and the Gulags of the USSR, I have wondered at the capacity of evil that enables otherwise rational men to "lawfully" inflict pain and death on other human beings. To be able to even reduce the discussion to an argument of comparison between the treatment of men and animals seems to suggest we have learned nothing from those times about the sanctity of life or the moral codes that distinguish civilization from barbarism. Least of all should the Constitution be made a token on which we justify the barbarous and unforgivable acts done in our name in the 21st century.

Posted by: peter | Apr 8, 2008 2:50:24 AM

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