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Thread: 2 Hours for an Execution

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    2 Hours for an Execution

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    I put this here because I know it can be a heated topic. I'll be honest, I'm trying to figure out what I think about this (and I really mean about the circumstances here, not the general issue of the death penalty):

    The controversial drug that Arizona used to execute double-murderer Joseph Rudolph Wood on Wednesday took nearly two hours to kill him and left him snorting and gasping for breath.

    One reporter who witnessed the execution, Troy Hayden of Fox 10 News, said it was "very disturbing to watch ... like a fish on shore gulping for air. At a certain point, you wondered whether he was ever going to die."
    The drugs used were a benzodiazipine and a morphine derivative. Some witnesses say he was deeply sedated through the whole process. Others say it was like snoring.

    The victims' family members said the media were wrong to focus on the execution method rather than on the victims. "Everybody here said it was excruciating," said Jeanne Brown, Debra Dietz's sister. "You don't know what excruciating is. Seeing your dad lying there in a pool of blood, seeing your sister lying there in a pool of blood, that's excruciating."

    Her husband, Richard Brown, who said he witnessed the murders, said, "What I've seen today, you guys are blowing this all out of proportion about these drugs.

    "Why didn't we give him a bullet? Why didn't we give him some Drano? These people that are on death row, they deserve to suffer a little bit."
    Source: Execution of Arizona murderer takes nearly 2 hours

    Does either the 1. two hour window or 2. appearance of pain/distress constitute, in your opinion, cruel and unusual punishment?
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    I think the families attitudes show one problem with the death penalty. It should not be about revenge.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guynavywife View Post
    I think the families attitudes show one problem with the death penalty. It should not be about revenge.
    To be honest, I probably unfairly cherry-picked that quote from the article, because it certainly does concern me. I've fantasized about slowly cutting organs off the man who abused me when I was little, but that's why I wouldn't be involved in deciding his sentence.

    I don't like seeing living things suffer. I guess I'm not sure whether physical distress while insensate constitutes suffering.
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    I think it does. Two hours he was gasping/fighting for breathe? And you think he wasn't feeling that? That he wasn't suffering? Being paralyzed to the point where he couldn't voluntarily react to that doesn't mean he's incapable of feeling that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andie View Post
    I think it does. Two hours he was gasping/fighting for breathe? And you think he wasn't feeling that? That he wasn't suffering? Being paralyzed to the point where he couldn't voluntarily react to that doesn't mean he's incapable of feeling that.
    I can only speak for myself and my own experience with benzos, but cognitively and psychologically, they significantly lower my "suffering." I would assume that a high dose would render me unknowing. Presumably, the opiate would eliminate physical pain, so . . . .

    I've not been forced to sit with a loved one during the natural dying process, but I understand it's very common to struggle to breathe for an extended period of time, while doctors use pain meds to alleviate "suffering." I mean, I don't want to get into a euthanasia argument, but it's difficult for me to parse the term "suffer."
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    People who do not know how death occurs (ie. normal citizens of the world) should not be determining this. When we euth a dog or cat, sometimes they 'gasp'. Actually, they are already dead, its just a reflex of nerves to 'gasp', but the animal is dead. Was his heart still beating, or was he just having post-mortum gasping? The article doesnt say. If his heart is gone, well thats not suffering, thats his body reacting to being dead. Now if this mans heart was still beating, well, thats another issue. Why dont they just use the euthanasia cocktail that we use in vet med? I just dont get why they are trying to make new combos when what we have works really well.

    Also, we allow the ones we love to slowly suffer and die and gasp for breath in hospitals for days since we wont euth them. Its not like suffering while dying is uncommon.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr.VinoVet View Post
    People who do not know how death occurs (ie. normal citizens of the world) should not be determining this. When we euth a dog or cat, sometimes they 'gasp'. Actually, they are already dead, its just a reflex of nerves to 'gasp', but the animal is dead. Was his heart still beating, or was he just having post-mortum gasping? The article doesnt say. If his heart is gone, well thats not suffering, thats his body reacting to being dead. Now if this mans heart was still beating, well, thats another issue. Why dont they just use the euthanasia cocktail that we use in vet med? I just dont get why they are trying to make new combos when what we have works really well.

    Also, we allow the ones we love to slowly suffer and die and gasp for breath in hospitals for days since we wont euth them. Its not like suffering while dying is uncommon.
    I have only a limited understanding, but apparently part of the issue is exactly this - no agreement on what cocktail is "right." Access to those medications is apparently also an issue - at least once, Arizona obtained the medications illegally. The question about physicians' oaths and involvement in causing the death is also a factor.

    Out of curiosity, what meds are used for animals? Are they approved for human use?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sunbeam View Post
    I have only a limited understanding, but apparently part of the issue is exactly this - no agreement on what cocktail is "right." Access to those medications is apparently also an issue - at least once, Arizona obtained the medications illegally. The question about physicians' oaths and involvement in causing the death is also a factor.

    Out of curiosity, what meds are used for animals? Are they approved for human use?
    At my clinic first we sedate with a benzodiazapene like acepromazine or sometimes something like valium (not actually valium, its midazolam, but a cousin), and then we give an IV pentobarbitol injection IV (its called euthasol). At the ridiculously high doses that we give, it stops the heart and active breathing within 10-20 seconds.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr.VinoVet View Post
    At my clinic first we sedate with a benzodiazapene like acepromazine or sometimes something like valium (not actually valium, its midazolam, but a cousin), and then we give an IV pentobarbitol injection IV (its called euthasol). At the ridiculously high doses that we give, it stops the heart and active breathing within 10-20 seconds.
    Midazolam is the benzo they were using. I wondered if the inmate had ever been an addict so that his body was acclimated to the opiate. I had understood that was generally factored into the dosage calculations.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr.VinoVet View Post
    People who do not know how death occurs (ie. normal citizens of the world) should not be determining this. When we euth a dog or cat, sometimes they 'gasp'. Actually, they are already dead, its just a reflex of nerves to 'gasp', but the animal is dead. Was his heart still beating, or was he just having post-mortum gasping? The article doesnt say. If his heart is gone, well thats not suffering, thats his body reacting to being dead. Now if this mans heart was still beating, well, thats another issue. Why dont they just use the euthanasia cocktail that we use in vet med? I just dont get why they are trying to make new combos when what we have works really well.

    Also, we allow the ones we love to slowly suffer and die and gasp for breath in hospitals for days since we wont euth them. Its not like suffering while dying is uncommon.
    Since they didn't call time of death for about two hours and it sounds like it started before that... Well.
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