Creator of Lethal Injection Procedure Defends His Work

Who devised the three-drug cocktail for lethal injections? An Oklahoma doctor and medical examiner named Jay Chapman. 30 years later, and in the face of numerous court challenges, he defends his baby.

A sample of his thoughts:

If states are looking for a way to quickly and painlessly put someone to death, he has a suggestion.

"There is absolutely nothing wrong with the guillotine," he said impatiently. "It can be operated by an idiot and it is a very effective instrument."

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    Take his license. (none / 0) (#1)
    by Che's Lounge on Thu May 10, 2007 at 07:16:34 PM EST
    He is in violation of the hippocratic oath.

    To please no one will I prescribe a deadly drug nor give advice which may cause his death.

    Maybe he only took the hypocritic oath.

    The guillotine!? (none / 0) (#2)
    by Demi Moaned on Thu May 10, 2007 at 08:25:54 PM EST
    I don't think there's any evidence that it is painless or even that quick.

    A bullet through the cranium probably is both.

    An overdose of barbiturates is not terribly quick but is surely painless.

    However quick and painless the process, what you can't get around is the terror of the subjects in the time leading up to the execution.

    Well (none / 0) (#3)
    by phat on Thu May 10, 2007 at 11:31:25 PM EST
    The legislator who claims to have come up with the original idea for lethal injection doesn't support it anymore.


    please provide links (none / 0) (#5)
    by Sailor on Fri May 11, 2007 at 12:02:56 AM EST
    he's correct, (none / 0) (#4)
    by cpinva on Thu May 10, 2007 at 11:45:44 PM EST
    the guillotine takes approx. 1/270th of a second to sever a human head, assuming the blade is properly sharpened. as well, one has to account for disproportionately large necks, and add weight to the blade, much as you would for a hanging.

    is it completely painless? beats me, i guess you'd have to ask someone it's been used on, though no evidence of survivors exists. however, in the public annals, with the sole exception of louis XVI, it certainly left no question as to the condemned's status.

    geez, you don't even need a dr in attendence. kinda messy though.

    with respect to the terror experienced by the condemned, well, isn't that really part of the punishment? if it weren't, we'd poison them in their sleep, or slip something into their dinner, rendering them unconscious, then kill them.

    Jay Chapman (none / 0) (#6)
    by HK on Fri May 11, 2007 at 04:31:30 AM EST
    I have interviewed Jay Chapman and although I couldn't disagree with him more on capital punishment, I have to say that unlike the Fresno Bee reporter in the linked article, I didn't find him cantankerous.  In fact, we had a lot else in common and I kind of liked him.  It was a good lesson in life to experience meeting someone who made no qualms about the fact that he thought one of my friends deserved to die and had designed the method for killing him, but to recognise that if the topic of conversation was different, we would actually get on really well.  And in fact Chapman wasn't aware of my vested interest (I thought it would make for a better interview as otherwise he might have been less open and more defensive) and afterwards, he emailed me just to chat a few times.

    Some of those who comment here should take the time to think about how it is important to have debates (sometimes heated ones) and you don't have to agree with people all the time, but folk are just folk; the good guys and the bad guys are not as distinct groups as you might think.

    HK (none / 0) (#7)
    by Deconstructionist on Fri May 11, 2007 at 08:43:14 AM EST
      Very well stated post. I would also add that if we have capital punishment,  we do need thoughtful people to explore and debate the methods. The people doing this are not responsible for the existence of capital punishment, and, I could easily imagine a person who sincerely believed that even though he opposed capital punishment that it was virtuous work to seek more humane methods.

    which is exactly (none / 0) (#8)
    by cpinva on Fri May 11, 2007 at 09:24:43 AM EST
    what dr. guillotine was doing, when he devised the method bearing his name. he felt that a quick death, by nearly instantaneous beheading, was far more humane than that of slow strangulation by hanging, the method used most commonly at the time, for other than the nobility.

    i would strongly disagree with your assertion, HK, that the good guys and bad guys aren't distinct groups: a murderer has killed someone, i haven't. that's hardly a fine distinction.

    granted, there may well be mitigating circumstances, but when all is said and done, i'm still not a killer, and they are.

    cp (none / 0) (#9)
    by Deconstructionist on Fri May 11, 2007 at 09:36:14 AM EST
      I shouldn't speak for him but I don't think HK was saying you can NEVER label anyone good or bad in any context. I think here merely meant that we should calm down and realize that in SOME or even most contexts it is wrong to assume someone is  a bad guy because he is in some way asscociated with something you oppose or because he holds different views than you on a subject you consider important.

      In context, he means don't assume the doctor is another Mengele, whom he probably wouldn't object to you calling a "bad guy"  because he chooses to work in this field.


    For the record... (none / 0) (#11)
    by HK on Fri May 11, 2007 at 10:57:02 AM EST
    cpinva, Decon pretty much nailed my sentiments.  I am not saying that all good deeds are on a par with each other and all bad things are on par with each other.  I have done some things in my life that I'm not particularly proud of, but none are remotely as bad as murdering someone, which I think we can all agree is just about as bad a deed as you can get.  Equally, there are murderers who have done good things, perhaps nothing that negates the act of murder, but things that deserve recognition none the less.  Everybody does good things and bad things and so it is too simplistic to say that there are 'good guys' and 'bad guys'.  That is what I meant.  And in the case of Chapman, I disagreed with him severely on an issue that is both serious and close to my heart, but I could still enjoy having a dialogue with him.  It is seldom helpful to make a decision on what you think of a person based on one aspect of their views, behaviour or personality.

    BTW Decon, despite my best efforts, I'm sure I am not always considered ladylike, but I always manage to be female ;0)


    "quick death" (none / 0) (#10)
    by roy on Fri May 11, 2007 at 09:38:06 AM EST
    There's a theory floating around -- sorry, no links before my coffee -- that a person remains conscious for a few seconds after being beheaded.  It makes sense on its face; the brain is still intact and oxygenated.  I won't guess whether it hurts to have your body cut off, but bouncing into a basket and looking up at your own headless body has to be among the most profoundly terrifying experiences there can be.

    sorry ... (none / 0) (#12)
    by Deconstructionist on Fri May 11, 2007 at 11:17:55 AM EST
      We need gender neutral third person singular personal pronouns.

    Which proves my earlier point (none / 0) (#13)
    by HK on Fri May 11, 2007 at 11:45:20 AM EST
    The Chinese and Japanese may have the death penalty, but they have that gender-neutral-third-person-singular-personal-pronoun-thing nailed, so they can't be all bad!