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October 4, 2007

New Amnesty International report on lethal injection

Thanks to posts from StandDown Texas Project and TalkLeft, I see that Amnesty International has produced this big new report on lethal injection executions entitled "Execution by lethal injection" A quarter century of state poisoning."  Here is a paragraph from the introduction:

Amnesty International argues that every execution is a violation of fundamental human rights. Amnesty International is therefore totally committed to ending executions whether by lethal injection or any other method. Any potential increase in executions or lobbying for the death penalty as a result of the use of lethal injection is of serious concern.  The increased pressure on medical professionals to participate in executions also raises serious ethical and human rights issues.  This paper reviews developments with respect to lethal injection executions over the past decade.  In this 25th year of lethal injection executions, Amnesty International renews its call on health professionals to respect professional ethics and human rights and not to facilitate or participate in the taking of life in state-ordered executions. It also calls for an end to the death penalty and a more human rights-affirming response to crime.

Reports about the report are available from BBC News and The Guardian.

October 4, 2007 at 06:09 PM | Permalink


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When the Bill of Rights was written and ratified, it was clear that the government not being able to deprive a person of "life... without due process of law" means the death penalty was acceptable and not per se cruel and unusual punishment. I'm against the death penalty because our system simply is not accurate enough. Also, I'm against it because the drugs used to carry out the execution are obviously questionable vis a vis the amount of pain and suffering they cause.

The simple solution is to use ONE DRUG - a potent opiate/opioid - to cause an overdose and death. An injection of a gram of fentanyl (or one of its more potent analogues such as carfentanil or remifentanil) would do the trick quick and painlessly every single time. Not only would it be painless, it would intially be pleasant, until it quickly caused the convicted individual to fall asleep, stop breathing, and suffocate unconsciously.

If the government were smart, they would use a large dose of heroin (also a potent opiate) to carry out the executions. What would stigmatize a drug more than knowing it's what they use to execute people on death row? Nothign would make heroin more unattractive to the general public.

Executions via opiate/opioid overdose are and could never be painful. As such, they are per se not cruel and unusual. This whole debate could be put to rest very quickly. Hell, it might even give people on death row a little something to look forward to and make the execution infinitely less scary.

Posted by: bruce | Oct 5, 2007 4:12:32 AM

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