You Wouldn't Do a Dog This Way

Since 2004, I've been writing about how vets won't put dogs down using the chemicals prisons use to execute inmates.

A new study, Anesthetizing the Public Conscience: Lethal Injection and Animal Euthanasia, is out comparing the two -- and witnesses are testifying in an Ohio death penalty case to exactly that: you wouldn't do a dog this way.

First, the Ohio case:

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.

The problems in a nutshell:[More...]

How the drugs are administered:

The major criticism of the three-drug execution procedure is that if the executioner administers too little anesthetic or makes mistakes in injecting it, the inmate could suffer excruciating pain from the other two drugs.

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."

Anesthesiologists always administer drugs while standing next to the patient so they can detect if problems occur, such as a leak or a ruptured vein, Heath said. He also warned drugs could go into the tissue instead of the vein.

Then there's the chemicals themselves:

Heath said potassium chloride, the third drug administered, which stops the heart, is sometimes used for euthanizing animals. He added that in veterinary procedures the person administering the drug has to be trained in assessing the depth in which the animal is sedated and would have to be present at the bedside. "That's a major violation or departure from any acceptable veterinary standard," Heath said of Ohio's method.

Other problems that could occur come during the mixing of the anesthetic - sodium thiopental, which is sold in powder form - and the insertion of the catheters in the veins and kinks in the IV tubing, he said.

Back to the new study, here's the abstract:

This article studies state laws governing animal euthanasia and concludes that many more states than have previously been recognized ban the use of paralyzing agents in animal euthanasia. In fact, 97.6% of lethal injection executions in this country have taken place in states that have banned, for use in animal euthanasia, the same drugs that are used in those states during executions. Moreover, a study of the legislative history of state euthanasia laws reveals that the concerns raised about paralyzing drugs in the animal euthanasia context are identical in many ways to the concerns that lawyers for death row inmates are currently raising about the use of those drugs in the lethal injection executions of human beings.

This article takes an in depth look at animal euthanasia and its relationship to lethal injection by examining in Part I the history and origins of the paralyzing drugs that veterinarians and animal welfare experts refuse to allow in animal euthanasia; in Part II the standards of professional conduct for veterinary and animal shelter professionals; in Part III, the state laws and regulations governing animal euthanasia; and finally in Part IV, the legislative history that led to the enactment of the various states' animal euthanasia laws and regulations.

Also check out the report by Human Rights Watch, So Long as They Die.

The Supreme Court will decide the issue of whether the three drug cocktail violates the 8th Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment this term in Baze v. Rees.

Regardless of the outcome, this article in the New England Journal of Medicine explains why physicians should not participate in executions.

Physicians and other health care providers should not be involved in capital punishment, even in an advisory capacity. A profession dedicated to healing the sick has no place in the process of execution.

On January 7 in oral arguments in Baze v. Rees, the justices asked many important and thoughtful questions about a potential role for physicians and other health care professionals in executions. In their fuller examination of Baze v. Rees, the justices should not presume that the medical profession will be available to assist in the taking of human lives.

We believe that, like the anesthesiologists in the Morales case, all responsible members of the medical profession, when asked to assist in a state-ordered execution, will remember the Hippocratic Oath and refuse to participate. The future of capital punishment in the United States will be up to the justices, but the involvement of physicians in executions will be up to the medical profession.

< Trina Bachtel Family: Clinton Told The Truth | Judge Weinstein: Juries Should Know If Mandatory Minimum Applies >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Jeralyn, (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Gabriele Droz on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 09:31:39 PM EST
    I'm a wildlife rehabilitator/educator that has cared for over 3,000 injured, orphaned, oiled, and displaced birds (plus some mammals) over the past seventeen years, from hummingbirds to cormorants to pelicans to vultures, hawks, owls and eagles.

    Euthanasia, of course, is the most difficult thing to deal with in this area of work, as most wildlife will not allow themselves to be caught until they are nearly incapacitated, and to bring them back is always a great challenge.

    Euthanasia, when I first started out 17 years ago, was NEVER an option for me, as I tried everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, to keep them from passing away, and with this, often prolonged their inevitable suffering.

    But one does not know these things when one starts out.  We want to save ALL life, especially that of wildlife, often victims of our either deliberate or ignorant actions that lead to their injuries (tree trimmings in spring, rodent poisoning that kills raptors who eat the poisened rodents, traps set for coyotes or ground squirrels, impact with cars (70% of my patients), orphaned chicks, electrecutions on wires, and, first and foremost, starvation from habitat loss or the inability of youngsters to find a territory for themselves.

    Euthanasia.  I never thought I could ever do such a thing to any living being, but since there are not enough of us around to care for such beings, I often find myself in a situation where I HAVE to do this.  Our funds are not unlimited.  There are no places (with experienced people) to care for them, and the choices are hard and cruel.

    I have a method that therefore takes care of them in the kindes way possible, and it is NOT dragging them into a veterinarian hospital while being wrapped into a towe.  It's a quick predatory method that depends on the night, them being asleep, and 5 more seconds of a sudden impact.

    That is the kindest way I can do it - and I've tried them all.

    Wow! (none / 0) (#36)
    by mexboy on Tue Apr 08, 2008 at 02:20:51 PM EST

    I found myself reading your post and visualizing what you have to do with the animals that have no chance to live, and it was very difficult. I would not want to be in your position, but I would love to help to rehabilitate them.

    Do you know of a wild life refuge in southern California where I can volunteer?



    Well, I'm in Santa Barbara myself, (none / 0) (#40)
    by Gabriele Droz on Tue Apr 08, 2008 at 09:41:52 PM EST
    and a friend of mine runs the Ojai Raptor Center (Ventura and Oakview).  I don't know where you are located, but you can do a Google search on Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers in Southern California.  There are quite a few of them.  Good luck, and thanks for your comment.

    I abhore the death penalty ever (none / 0) (#1)
    by athyrio on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 08:26:52 PM EST
    since I heard that so many people had been freed after they were proven innocent with their DNA, etc....It should be abolished as the government's rush to judgement oftentimes isn't quite on the up and up....

    Great post. (none / 0) (#2)
    by Faust on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 08:38:41 PM EST
    My eyes have been opened a little wider.

    Very disturbing (none / 0) (#3)
    by stillife on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 08:43:05 PM EST
    I'm against capital punishment, b/c I believe that if the state executes people, it's brought itself down to the level of murderers.

    However, I did believe that lethal injection was at least "humane", as opposed to the electric chair.  Thank you for this post.

    Amazing post Jeralyn (none / 0) (#4)
    by indy33 on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 08:46:02 PM EST
    Just more fuel for the fire to fight the death penalty. Both our democratic candidates need to wake up and realize this is wrong. Obama deserves as much criticism as anyone because he saw it in his own state. I plan on becoming active in promoting the moratorium in Missouri and I hope more progressives adopt this as an important issue. Even though I support Obama, this would be the first thing I would ask him if I got a chance. No where in our system do we take an eye for an eye.

    It is largely thanks to Obama that in IL the cops (none / 0) (#5)
    by halstoon on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 08:54:38 PM EST
    now have videotape interrogations and confessions. He deserves a lot of credit for helping to keep more innocent people off of death row and out of prison altogether.

    His role was admirable (none / 0) (#11)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 09:09:48 PM EST
    and that's one facet of a multi-layered bill that passed in Illiniois after a commission was appointed to study the problems with the state's high number of wrongful convictions. Hillary , by the way, was an early supporter (2002)of the Innocence Protection Act.

    It's not enough to protect the innocent and the wrongfully convicted. Both Hillary and Obama support the death penalty for those who commit heinous crimes.

    This post is about protecting the constitutional rights of all of us -- including the lowest among us -- the worst of the worst-- not to be subjected to  cruel and unusual punishment. The 8th Amendment ban should preclude being killed by a chemical cocktail that may cause excruciating pain -- one we don't even use on animals.

    I don't think either candidate has expressed a view on the case about to be decided. If I had to bet, I'd say they both say, "I'd appoint a commission to study it more."


    I admire your passion for the issue, and I respect (none / 0) (#16)
    by halstoon on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 10:41:16 PM EST
    your analysis. Policy-wise, I have to say that I am with the two candidates. For people like that guy who killed the hiker here in North GA recently, I have no sympathy, and the idea that it hurts when they die doesn't really bother me. People who kill children can die a slow, excruciating death so far as I'm concerned.

     For that reason, I seriously doubt the death penalty will ever be overturned. If they strike down lethal injection, another method will be employed. I, too, would encourage a commission to be seated so we can find a way that is more acceptable.


    What you feel about the crime (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by spit on Tue Apr 08, 2008 at 10:32:07 AM EST
    or what I feel about it isn't the point. The actions of the state shouldn't come down to your or my disgust with somebody's crime. While it's perfectly understandable for an individual -- especially a family member -- to want what essentially comes down to "what they deserve" revenge, the purpose of the criminal justice system should never be a vindictive one, IMO. "What people deserve" is a hazy question that the state has no business dealing in; "what will be the best outcome for society while staying within the boundaries of protecting individual rights" is the realm of the state, as far as I'm concerned.

    Whether the death penalty fits within those bounds is, of course, debatable, but the idea that it's about "having sympathy" or whether somebody "deserves it" always makes my eyes cross, it so utterly misses the underlying question.

    As for whether it "hurts" when they die, I don't think torture is okay, either, no matter how nasty the person being tortured might be. Torture is essentially what you're giving your stamp of approval here, only even worse, IMO, because there's not even the "we might get vital information" bogus excuse for such a position.


    Of course you're right that the justice system (none / 0) (#35)
    by halstoon on Tue Apr 08, 2008 at 02:13:20 PM EST
    should not approach any case in the same mindset as the victims' family or the victim themself. That wasn't really what I was arguing for, either. What I was arguing was that the fact that victims and their families do feel this way, and that a majority of Americans can identify with that feeling, make it unlikely that America will disavow the death penalty anytime soon.

    Saying that lethal injection is painful does not make it torture. That can be debated, but your assertion of pain as torture being fact is not true. That is your opinion.

    As I've said in other comments, both sides rely on emotion and a shading of the facts in a way that make their cases seem airtight, but in the end both sides are simply relying on emotion. I think a reasonable approach can also lead to either conclusion, so as long as the majority of Americans have the base emotion I spoke of, America will not abolish the death penalty. Some states may, and I support their right to do so, but I don't think places like TX will close their death rows anytime in our lifetimes (well, I'm 30, so not in the next 50 years I'd say).


    My only problem was the last paragraph. (none / 0) (#6)
    by halstoon on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 08:57:58 PM EST
    If medical personnel are restricted from participating in executions as part of the Hippocratic Oath, how can those same physicians then turn around and offer palliative care? How can they justify pulling the plug on someone? Are they gonna start making mothers and janitors pull the plug?? Will they perform CPR on a patient dying after being taken off a respirator?

    As for the connection to veterinary medicine, that is certainly an eye opener. As little sympathy as I have for some criminals, the idea that we won't euthanize a dog in the same way we kill a human is very powerful.

    The difference is (none / 0) (#21)
    by LHinSeattle on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 11:48:47 PM EST
    that the meds in lethal injections, or the oral meds in physician-assisted suicide cause death after they are given to the inmate/patient. In medical ethics terms, it's an active means to death.

    Whereas in "unplugging" or "pulling the tubes" you are removing an artificial intervention --  then the patient is left to continue on living, or to die a natural death. In these cases it is the patient's lung failure or brain failure that stops the patient from breathing or eating on his/her own. The result is usually death. It's not always quick, and in some cases the patient continues to live on her/his own without the ventilator, or without the feeding tube. For example, there have been cases of patients who then were able to eat quite fine on their own and lived several more years (these cases are quite rare).

    In Britain they usually don't put patients on so many aggressive interventions as we Americans do.  So they have fewer cases where the decision to remove "life support" technology or not needs to be made.  

    I would have no problem ordering the removal of ventilator  tubes, etc., if patient's living will indicated they didn't want that technology. However, I would not write a lethal prescription -- or administer it -- to anyone, patient or inmate. I would certainly write pain-control Rxs for them.  My own philosophy on this extremely complex subject!


    I appreciate you sharing. (none / 0) (#27)
    by halstoon on Tue Apr 08, 2008 at 02:17:39 AM EST
    I see your point about death being natural when we disconnect support machinery. That makes sense to me.

    What could possibly be a more cruel and unusual... (none / 0) (#7)
    by white n az on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 08:59:27 PM EST
    punishment than death? Tar and feathering?

    I simply don't get the whole notion of government in the killing business at all.

    I simply don't get how all these 'Christians' picket Planned Parenthood and cheer government sponsored killing.

    Once you realize that we often wrongfully convict people in this country even with a set of laws premised on the notion that it is better to set one guilty person free than to wrongly convict an innocent person, it is obvious that the government will kill innocent people.

    That they believe that they have a 'humane' method of killing people is laughable on it's face.

    Constitutionally, execution was neither (none / 0) (#17)
    by halstoon on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 10:49:09 PM EST
    considered cruel nor unusual at the country's founding. Lots of people faced firing squads or hung from trees.

    While I would normally applaud your hypocrisy charge, the fact is that protecting an unborn child and killing a child predator (not an abortion doctor or patient) are not really so contradictory. The Bible does in fact endorse capital punishment.

    What is laughable to some is the notion that a man like Dahmer or Bundy deserves to die in a "humane" way. What is wrong with it hurting when those men die?


    Because... (none / 0) (#18)
    by Alec82 on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 10:59:31 PM EST
    ...you debase yourself by killing them.  

     Adultery, fornication and sodomy were punishable by death early on.  So was rape. Recently states have moved to secure the death penalty for child rapists.

     I haven't seen any real, trustworthy evidence that the DP has a deterrence effect.  Even if it did, I would oppose it.  As I said, we debase ourselves by executing people.  Having grown up in MI, I was very disturbed by the execution of Williams about five months after I moved out here to CA.  When you live in an abolitionist state you take the absence of the DP for granted.  Listening to fellow law students discuss his execution with glee was very unnerving.  


    The Bible... (none / 0) (#20)
    by white n az on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 11:20:07 PM EST
    ahh...we are a nation with a Judeo-Christian ethic.

    The fact is that the laws of this country often run counter to the backwards notions that people cling to and point toward in this thing we call the Bible.

    Why not adopt Sharia law and cut off the hands of thieves and stone adulterers?

    It is the blind adherence to antiquated notions of those who feel it necessary to shove biblical notions down our collective throats that try to divide us by having endless elections on things like what constitutes a marriage and the like.

    By dragging in Dahmer and Bundy, you are attempting to persuade through the most heinous but there are many who have committed far less heinous crimes who are on death row. Please don't try to game the discussion by pointing to the most vile people as proof of the sanity of the death penalty.

    The reality is that in this country, someone like Scott Peterson will never be put to death but if Scott Peterson were black and in Texas, I wouldn't give him 10% odds to survive on death row for 5 years. Given the fact that he is white, in California and from a middle class background, the odds of him being executed in the next 10 years are extremely remote.

    The Bible also teaches fairness which I'm sorry to say isn't remotely part of the way this country metes out the death penalty.

    However, my arguments were not really about fairness or the applicability of fairness but rather the point that as a society, we cannot possibly advance if our notions of problem solving equate to Hitlers.


    as Mahatma Ghandi said (none / 0) (#23)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Apr 08, 2008 at 01:06:08 AM EST
    An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.

    Like I said, I would normally be right beside (none / 0) (#26)
    by halstoon on Tue Apr 08, 2008 at 02:12:48 AM EST
    you in arguing that the Bible is insufficient evidence or reason for us to take collective action as a society. I personally support gay marriage, pro-choice, drug legalization, evolution, and many other issues the Church targets. I simply pointed out that the Bible does in fact endorse capital punishment to note that Christians' support of capital punishment is not inconsistent with their beliefs. I would move from the USA before I would want to live under Huckabee's Bible/Constitution form of gov't.

    You may object to justification based on the worst, but it is precisely the worst that justifies capital punishment. You mentioned that child rape is now eligible; you're d*mned right I support that. I will every day that I have two kids, and that'll be every day 'til I die. If someone were to rape and torture my kids, you can bet your last dollar that I am not gonna cry if the drug cocktail is not administered correctly and the scum bag screams as he dies.

    You are arguing for abolition based on the most egregious error, and that is equally objectionable in my view. That an innocent man would spend a night in prison much less die there is an injustice that I abhor. We can do more to make sure that doesn't happen, and it has nothing to do with sparing the lives of those most deserving of the death penalty. Further, we can distinguish between those cases that carry doubt post-conviction and those that there is no question about. I will support an argument that the death penalty is overused, but not that it should be abolished. That prisoner did the world a favor by killing Dahmer. Jeralyn's client--McVeigh--earned his time in the death chamber. Those cases are clear cut and should not be tossed out.

    You do the same thing with Scott Peterson. We can evaluate disparities among races, between states, whatever you want to distinguish. Again, do too many people get a death sentence? Probably. Does that mean we should cease meting out that punishment on the most heinous killers? Absolutely not, imo.

    Your last sentence again returns to the same demagoguery you accuse me of. Saying that we are equal to Hitler b/c we execute people is not really fair.

    Clearly, both our responses demonstrate how emotional the issue is. In this case, I sympathize with many of the issues you raise, I simply disagree with your solution.


    a failed society (none / 0) (#28)
    by white n az on Tue Apr 08, 2008 at 09:26:16 AM EST
    Your last sentence again returns to the same demagoguery you accuse me of. Saying that we are equal to Hitler b/c we execute people is not really fair.

    Fairness is clearly a relative notion.

    Hitler and his fellow Nazi's concept of the 'Final Solution' and this country's use of the death penalty as the final solution are purely equals in terms of problem solving.

    If we accept that the law is imperfect, that people are imperfect, that people enforcing laws are imperfect, how can we justify a perfectly final solution?

    The only answer...that we have failed as a society to recognize our responsibility to humanity itself.


    It may not be a popular notion, but (none / 0) (#37)
    by halstoon on Tue Apr 08, 2008 at 02:21:39 PM EST
    Hitler wasn't necessarily wrong in every instance. I'm sure you can raise some battle flags with that admission, but at some point if you support the death penalty you have to accept enflaming statements like that.

    When I talk about the death penalty, I envision the sentence being imposed in only the most clear cut cases. It really should be limited to those we know w/o doubt to be guilty of the most heinous crimes. So in cases where there is even a little doubt, I'd rather see life w/o parole imposed. But in cases where the perpetrator's identity is not in question and where the circumstances are the most horrible, I support it. Had the VT killer not done himself in, the state should have. This guy who killed the hiker in North GA and admitted to decapitating others: no doubt he should be put to death, imo. A guy who is found to have a torture chamber in his basement with a little girl chained to the wall. Those are the people I'm discussing. And in those cases it's not that it will deter the next sicko, b/c I don't think it will. It's not about getting revenge, b/c there is nothing we can do to equal their crimes. It is, imo, about people like that forfeiting their right to live. That's all.


    Well said. (none / 0) (#38)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Apr 08, 2008 at 02:47:03 PM EST
    In addition I would add that some murders are committed by convicted un-executed murderers; clearly no murders have ever been committed by convicted and executed murderers.

    You got that right. n/t (none / 0) (#39)
    by halstoon on Tue Apr 08, 2008 at 02:53:32 PM EST
    Now that we (none / 0) (#8)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 09:02:12 PM EST
    have facilities where we can pretty much hold prisoners without any chance of escape, there's no use for the death penalty.

    Thank you! (none / 0) (#9)
    by bjorn on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 09:05:04 PM EST
    I can use this info in my class. thank you very much for the post.

    I'm totally opposed to the death penalty (none / 0) (#10)
    by ruffian on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 09:07:24 PM EST
    and wish both the candidates were too.  Obama does seem closer to my position, but even supporting the death penalty for the most heinous crimes is too much for me.  We just don't have the right.

    I can't help but think this is a position they have both taken to look tough on crime, and is an example of why the mainstream of the Democratic party is too close to the right bank for my taste.

    A Dog's Death (none / 0) (#12)
    by Molly Pitcher on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 09:12:55 PM EST
    I have had to put down 3 pets.  I do not know the SC law, but only for one pet did the procedure result in a humane death.  A paralyzing drug was used first with my cat--I held the poor thing for at least half an hour waiting for the vet to say it was time for the final shot.

    For one old dog, the vet just picked up his paw, and two seconds later he was gone.

    But my dog that had a form of MS was given a sedative pill, then a shot to render her helpless, and after many excruciating minutes came her release by another shot.

    I am not sure I could stand going thru this with another pet.  I will let you all decide whether it is right to treat a human like this.

    Sobral Pinto Defense (none / 0) (#13)
    by CSTAR on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 09:14:57 PM EST
    In the 1930s Brazilian human rights lawyer Sobral Pinto took up the case  of Harry Berger, a communist no other lawyer was willing to represent.  Pinto (who was a devout catholic BTW) invoked a law against cruelty to animals in Berger's defense, apparently with success, although Berger by then was bordering on insanity because he had been systematically and brutally tortured in detention.

    Brazilian portuguese reference

    Prof Berman... (none / 0) (#14)
    by Alec82 on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 09:18:10 PM EST
    ...highlighted this yesterday on Sentencing Law and Policy.  It is truly unbelievable, but a good reflection of how we really view the convicted in this country.  

    That isn't right (none / 0) (#19)
    by dianem on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 11:14:08 PM EST
    I believe that we overuse the death penalty, but that it should be available for truly horrible crimes, crimes which are so vicious that the perpetrator has sacrificed their "personhood". I don't like the way we seem to treat the death penalty as simply a step beyond incarceration. IT's not. It should be special and rare. An execution should be a rare national event, not an everyday occurrence. That said, if we are going to execute people, somebody who knows what they are doing needs to be there to ensure that we aren't torturing them. And yes, I do see torture as more serious than execution.  

    Responsible lawyers defend even the most reprehensible criminals, which is as it should be. Doctors need to be able to "represent" the "patient" who is going to be executed. Of course, I have no problem with doctor's participating in end of life decisions. I would prefer that a person have a doctor available to help them than that a person intent on suicide be forced to fend for themselves. To me, it is a greater wrong to allow the execution to go forward with the risk of suffering than it is for the doctor to ensure that the procedure is as merciful as possible.

    There are serious... (none / 0) (#22)
    by Alec82 on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 11:53:01 PM EST
    ...ethical issues with physicians participating, in any way, shape or form, with executions.  

     What crimes would you suggest are DP eligible?


    There would be criteria (none / 0) (#24)
    by dianem on Tue Apr 08, 2008 at 01:22:59 AM EST
    First, hard evidence. It would not be possible to convict on witness testimony along, or even on circumstantial evidence.

    Second, the crime must show a lack of humanity. The one that comes to mind is the man who raped a girl, cut her arms off, and left her for dead. Rape or torture, followed by murder would do it. I can't imagine what the victims of these kinds of crimes experience, but the kind of joy these people take in causing pain, then taking away any hope of recovering from the pain...

    I would like to see executions so rare the those who are executed know that society has completely rejected their humanity, just like they rejected the humanity of their victims. Murder alone would not qualify, regardless of who was murdered.


    Well... (none / 0) (#25)
    by Alec82 on Tue Apr 08, 2008 at 01:36:01 AM EST
    ...eyewitness testimony is considered direct evidence (as long as the crime was witnessed), and circumstantial evidence is used to convict all the time (where there's smoke there's fire, as the saying goes).  I don't know that this distinction would be helpful without an overhaul of evidence law, at least in the area of DP litigation.

     I guess the criminal defense angle runs in my blood, but while I support LWOP for the most heinous crimes, I just cannot bring myself to embrace the DP for anything.  I understand the policy rationales, but something about it makes my stomach churn.  


    I think the only way (none / 0) (#42)
    by RTwilight on Wed Apr 09, 2008 at 01:12:40 AM EST
    would be to use the death penalty only when there is a clear, uncoerced confession, multiple examinations for severe mental ilness that come up negative, and a murder that involves torture, canibalism or a child.

    Sadly . . . (none / 0) (#29)
    by Doc Rock on Tue Apr 08, 2008 at 10:09:11 AM EST
    . . . many of us care more about our pets than our fellow humans.  

    win-win? (none / 0) (#31)
    by diogenes on Tue Apr 08, 2008 at 11:00:39 AM EST
    So do I take it that when the veternarians show us a humane way to kill people that everyone will drop their opposition to the death penalty and we can talk about something else, or is this yet another line in the sand drawn by people who cannot get their opposition to the death penalty passed legislatively so they try every other trick in the book to obstruct it?

    No. (none / 0) (#33)
    by oldpro on Tue Apr 08, 2008 at 11:57:28 AM EST
    I wouldn't think that individual people would change their philosophical position re the death penalty any more than they would change their religion based on the vagueries of promises by government to treat our fellow citizens 'humanely,' whatever that may mean.

    Some issues cannot be gamed by compromise.  Life and death issues (the death penalty, abortion) present the most obvious examples.

    Your characterization of people opposed to the death penalty as obstructionists who will use "every other trick in the book" betrays a lack of understanding and of respect for those with whom you evidently disagree.


    obstructionists (none / 0) (#41)
    by diogenes on Tue Apr 08, 2008 at 10:45:50 PM EST
    People who would still oppose the death penalty even if the stated objection were met (i.e. I invent a painless death and then another obstacle is proposed) ARE being obstructionists.  People who are not proud of being obstructionists have their own issues.  
    If death penalty opponents want to impose their minority opinion on the majority, then say so and be proud of it.  To do so, however, they need to be obstructionistic.

    As a person who has ... (none / 0) (#32)
    by Tortmaster on Tue Apr 08, 2008 at 11:57:10 AM EST
    ... waited out jury deliberations on numerous occasions (but not in a death penalty case), I believe that the death penalty is the worst law on the books.

    In my bones, I believe that the number of innocent people killed through the death penalty would be shockingly large -- if we could ever go back in time and prove them innocent.

    To kill an innocent person is the ultimate horror, unless in doing so, you cause that innocent person excessive pain. Then, the horror is compounded.  

    Great post, Jeralyn!

    I don't want the government killing people (none / 0) (#34)
    by mexboy on Tue Apr 08, 2008 at 02:02:28 PM EST
    in my name.

    To my knowledge the US is the only developed country that still practices killing as justice.

    I just can't conceive murdering someone to punish them for murder.

    Veterinary Claims a Distortion of Reality (none / 0) (#43)
    by dudleysharp on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 11:57:40 AM EST
    Veterinary Claims a Distortion of Reality: Human Lethal Injection
    Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters, contact info, below

    Within the death penalty debate, there is an allegation that veterinarians are prohibited from using pancuronium bromide or Pavulon, the paralyzing agent used in human lethal injection, because it may cause and/or mask pain to the animals, within the euthanasia process.

    It is also stated that vets are prohibited from using potassium chloride, the heart stooping drug, used thirdly, in the three drug human lethal injection protocol.
    In turn, this is used as a new anti death penalty sound bite -  "It is too cruel for animals, but we use it on people."

    First, the The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommendations of 2000 (1) , inadvertently, support the human lethal injection protocol -- the opposite of what the detractors have been claiming.

    AVMA: "When used alone, these drugs (paralytics) all cause respiratory arrest before loss of consciousness, so the animal may perceive pain and distress after it is immobilized." (2)  

    Obviously,  no state, which practices human lethal injection, uses a paralytic without an anaesthetic --  EVER. The anesthesia is always used first. It appears that these absurd claims, falsely attributed to veterinary literature,  have been a bald faced lie by anti death penalty activists. 
    To claim that paralytics are condemned in veterinary euthanasia, without mentioning the specific context, is an intentional deception. (The AVMA does not mention the specific paralytic used in lethal injection for humans).
    Secondly, if properly anesthetized, as in human lethal injection, there would be no pain experienced when using Pavulon.  That is also well known.

    Thirdly, the AVMA, similarly, prohibits the use of potassium chloride, "WHEN USED ALONE". (3) (my capitalization for emphasis). Of course, human lethal injection uses the two previously mentioned drugs, prior to injection of the potassium chloride. This is well known, as well, thereby revealing more deceptions by the anti death penalty cabal.
    Fourth,, the AVMA, specifically, cautions (4):
    "1. The guidelines in this report are in no way intended to be used for human lethal injection.
    2. The application of a barbiturate, paralyzing agent, and potassium chloride delivered in separate
    syringes or stages (the common method used for human lethal injection) is not cited in the report.
    3. The report never mentions pancuronium bromide or Pavulon, the paralyzing agent used in human
    lethal injection."

    Obviously, the AVMA is saying DON'T use our report to draw any inferences with regard to the human lethal injection protocol.  Of course, death penalty opponents decided to ignore that responsible request.
    The AVMA continues:

    "Before referring to the 2000 Report of the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia, please contact the AVMA to ensure the association's position is stated correctly. Please contact Michael San Filippo, media relations assistant at the AVMA, at 847-285-6687 (office), 847-732-6194 (cell) or msanfilippo(at)avma.org  for more information or to set up an interview with a veterinary expert." (4)

    Death penalty opponents ignored that request, as well.
    Based upon this literature, it is clear that this veterinary nonsense was another anti death penalty fraud, which, sadly and often, escaped media fact checking, but not media repetition.
    The AVMA approves of  "potassium chloride in conjunction with prior general anesthesia" (5) for animals --  this is the drug protocol used within most lethal injection protocols, with the exception of the paralytic used in between. 
    This actually shows support for the human lethal injection protocol, however unintended.

    First, this two drug protocol is approved by AVMA, for animals. 

    Secondly,  a disadvantage listed by AVMA for potassium chloride is "clonic spams" (6)  --  rapid and violent jerking of muscles soon after injection of the potassium. The paralytic drug, used second, within the human lethal injection protocol, helps to reduce, or eliminate, this effect.
    In other words, a review of the AVMA literature finds much support, however inadvertent, for the human lethal injection protocol and nothing that conflicts with or condemns it.
    Hopefully, this newest, blatant distortion by the anti death penalty crowd will soon fade.
    Veterinary use of sodium pentobarbital
    "Pentobarbital is a barbiturate that is available as both a free acid and a sodium salt, the former of which is only slightly soluble in water and ethanol." (7)  (NOTE -- I don't believe this is used for human lethal injection).
    "Veterinary medicine
    In veterinary medicine sodium pentobarbital--traded under names such as Sagatal--is used as an anaesthetic.UBC Committee on Animal Care (2005). Euthanasia. SOP 009E1 - euthanasia - overdose with pentobarbital. The University of British Columbia. URL accessed on 4 October, 2005. Pentobarbital is an ingredient in Equithesin." (7)
    "Veterinary Euthanasia
    It is used by itself, or more often in combination with complementary agents such as phenytoin, in commercial animal euthanasia (2003). ANESTHESIA AND ANALGESIA. Animal Use Protocols. University of Virginia. URL accessed on 4 October, 2005. injectable solutions. Trade names include Euthasol, Euthatal, Beuthanasia-D and Fatal Plus. "(7)
    1)  www(dot)avma.org/issues/animal_welfare/euthanasia.pdf
       Appendix 1, page 693
    2)    www(dot)avma.org/issues/animal_welfare/euthanasia.pdf
              Appendix 4, page 696

    3)  www(dot)avma.org/issues/animal_welfare/euthanasia.pdf
             Page 681
    4)   www(dot)avma.org/issues/animal_welfare/euthanasia.pdf
             Cover Page
    5)   www(dot)avma.org/issues/animal_welfare/euthanasia.pdf
             Page 680
    6)    www(dot)avma.org/issues/animal_welfare/euthanasia.pdf
             Page 681
    7)    http://psychcentral.com/psypsych/Pentobarbital     

    copyright 2005-2007 Dudley Sharp
    Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
    e-mail  sharpjfa@aol.com,  713-622-5491,
    Houston, Texas
    Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.
    A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.
    Pro death penalty sites 


    www(dot)yesdeathpenalty.com/deathpenalty_contents.htm  (Sweden)

    Permission for distribution of this document, in whole or part,  is approved, with proper attribution.