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October 9, 2009

Alabama able to carry out another uneventful lethal injection execution

Perhaps Ohio officials need to take a trip to Texas or Alabama, because these states have not seemed to have had any trouble with their lethal injection protocols.  As detailed in this local article, headlined "Inmate put to death for 1992 murder," another seemingly uneventful lethal injection execution was completed last night in Alabama:

Alabama death row inmate Max Payne was executed by lethal injection Thursday for the 1992 kidnapping, robbery and killing of Cullman store owner Braxton Brown.

Payne, 38, died at 6:25 p.m. as his two sisters and other relatives wept quietly in the witness viewing room. Payne made a hand sign that means "I love you" to his relatives before losing consciousness. Asked if he had any last words, Payne said, "I just want to tell my family I love them."

The heavyset, balding Payne, strapped to a gurney in the execution chamber, made his last statement after warden Grantt Culliver read the execution order issued by the Alabama Supreme Court.

Once the lethal injection began, Payne gestured to family members and spoke quietly with prison chaplain Chris Summers, who was standing a few feet away. At one point Summers grabbed Payne's hand and patted him on the knee. Payne closed his eyes, pinched his lips and seemed to take a deep breath. Then he was still....

Payne's lethal injection brings Alabama's 2009 execution total to six, the most in a single year in the state since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume in the 1970s.  Until now, the most in a single year was four, in 2005, 2000 and 1989.

Texas, meanwhile, appears to have six more executions scheduled before even Thanksgiving, after having already executed 18 persons this year.  Interestingly, though, the last two executions scheduled in Texas were stayed, so maybe these 2009 execution numbers will change.  Nevertheless, so far there seems to be little reason to conclude or expect that the lethal injection problems plaguing Ohio are slowing down the machinery of death in other states that regularly execute their condemned.

Some new and old related posts on Ohio developments and other lethal injection issues:

October 9, 2009 at 11:55 AM | Permalink


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Max Payne...that's really the guy's name? Wow...

Something really is up not just in Ohio, but within the Sixth Circuit generally. To my knowledge, though, the three-drug cocktail is the same here as in Alabama and Texas. It looks like our chronic problems are either a product of poor training or the protocol before the drugs are administered.

Posted by: Res ipsa | Oct 9, 2009 12:16:50 PM

Res ipsa, aren't you going off-message? I thought that the issue was that even with well-trained personnel, the LI process was tricky. Now, it's that Ohio's guys are bad?

Please help me keep this straight.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 9, 2009 1:35:14 PM

So are Ohio's inmates simply fatter or more damaged in terms of drug abuse? Ohio and Alabama are apparently performing executions at roughly the same rate so I don't think lack of practice should be the deciding factor. Perhaps Alabama does a better job of training, or they lace meals with fluid retaining drugs to make IV insertion easier.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Oct 9, 2009 1:58:04 PM


Not entirely sure what you're referring to. If it's with respect to prior comments of mine, I'm not sure I've ever said that the process was innately tricky. I have said, however, that Ohio's method as a general matter was flawed. I'm not sure what the reason would be for that--could be poorly trained personnel, could be idiot personnel, could be bad pre-injection protocols, could be poor control of inmates--and I don't believe I've ever speculated.

What is clear, though, is that Ohio is doing something wrong, whereas Alabama and Texas seem to have it down to a science. Until Ohio figures out how to fix whatever it is it's doing wrong, lethal injections need to stop.

Posted by: Res ipsa | Oct 9, 2009 5:07:43 PM

If ritual killings are to be planned and scheduled like cocktail parties, why not go all the way?

Instead of messing with namby pamby LI procedures, why not summon ten burly death-penalty zealots, provide them with sledge hammers, pick axes and blow torches and let them go to town? The more blood, gore and shrieking the better (could boost the deterrence value by a factor of 10).

We need to get tough with death-row inmates.

Barring that, what's needed is for legislators to get busy drafting a subclavian-artery bill.

Years ago in a lengthy hospital stay nurses began having trouble finding or maintaining suitable veins for IVs. Eventually, they simply gouged a hole in my neck and snaked a larger tube into the subclavian artery and presto... the painful daily hunt for a "good vein" mercifully ended... the key word there being merciful...which, after all, is the whole point of civilized executions.

Posted by: John K | Oct 10, 2009 6:04:06 PM

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