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  #1  
Old 10-06-2007, 02:54 PM
Jim B. Jim B. is offline
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Should Nitrogen Asphyxiation Be Used for Capital Punishment?

I already saw this issue raised on the History Channel. The general tendency for capital punishment, in the U.S. at least, is for the methods to become more humane. And lethal injection sometimes doesn't go as planned.

Nitrogen asphyxiation. It is very humane (the death is similiar to carbon monoxide poisoning). It is virtually foolproof. And unlike cyanide gas, it can be simply released harmlessly back into the environment.

Here is an interesting article on it. BTW, although I do not like to politically label myself, I am for the most part a liberal. But I do approve of capital punishment, which I actually see as simply a form of euthanasia. (Yeah, I am a liberal for the most part. But for individual issues, I am probably all over the political spectrum.)

So should nitrogen asphyxiation be used as a form of capital punishment? And what can we do to get it established now?

Thank you all in advance to all who reply
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  #2  
Old 10-06-2007, 03:09 PM
Phlosphr Phlosphr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim B.
<snip> And what can we do to get it established now?

Thank you all in advance to all who reply
What can we do to get it established now? I would think establishing a new capital punnishment would not be an easy task....
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  #3  
Old 10-06-2007, 03:36 PM
Malodorous Malodorous is offline
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Originally Posted by Phlosphr
What can we do to get it established now? I would think establishing a new capital punnishment would not be an easy task....
Well, the constitutionality of lethal injection is currently being challenged, so it's conceivable that a lot of states may be shopping around for new methods of capital punishment in the near future, preferably ones that are as close to inarguably painless as possible so that they don't run afowl of the same legal challenges as injection. Using N2 seems, at least on first glance, a decent alternative.

I actually used to wonder sometimes why they don't use Carbon Monoxide, as one usually hears that victims of poisoning by that gas are unaware that they're in danger before they loose consciousness, and it's obviously easy to produce. N2 seems like it would have similar advantages.

[morbid humor] And unlike Carbon Monoxide, it would be carbon neutral! We could kill large numbers of people without any guilt about the effect on the environment![/morbid humor]
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  #4  
Old 10-06-2007, 06:53 PM
Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor is offline
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Execution by plastic explosive.

Wrap a 25 pound mass of C4 around a football helmet, in 5 separately fused & wired sections. Hook it all to 5 differnt power sources, each capable of detonating all 5 blocks.

One switch.



Instant, utterly painless, & completely certain.
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  #5  
Old 10-06-2007, 06:59 PM
elucidator elucidator is online now
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You cannot kill people "humanely". Don't kill people. Pretty simple, really.
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  #6  
Old 10-06-2007, 07:07 PM
Malodorous Malodorous is offline
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Originally Posted by elucidator
You cannot kill people "humanely". Don't kill people. Pretty simple, really.
Well, I agree. But if we are going to kill them, I'd certainly like it to be in the most painless way possible. So it makes sense to discuss what method that might be, even if our first choice would be to not do it at all.

If I were on death row, I'd certainly appreciate that I was to be killed in the most humane way rather then, say, going out like the main character at the end of a Mel Gibson's movie, even if my first choice would be to skip the killing all together.
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  #7  
Old 10-06-2007, 07:07 PM
Sam Stone Sam Stone is offline
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Semantics about 'humane' aside, I just don't get what's so hard about killing someone painlessly. We put people under anaesthetic all the time. They just put the person under, then do whatever they want to stop the heart. It should be foolproof., and aside from the IV insertion, completely painless.

For that matter, is lethal injection really that problematic? Or is that hype built up by anti-death penalty people? I watched our dog get euthanized by lethal injection, and it was fast and totally painless. My understanding is that the technique is pretty foolproof - they give the person a drug that knocks them unconscious ( Pentathol or something like it ), and once they are unconscious they pump something like potassium into their blood which stops the heart pretty quickly and they die.

If there are screwups with this, my guess is that the problem isn't with the nature of the chemical cocktail used to kill the person, but the complex timers and automation used so that no one has to be the 'executioner'. Which is just stupid. Find a damned volunteer and do it right, if you must do it.

BTW, I'm against the death penalty in almost all cases. So I'd rather we not kill them at all. The exception I would make would be in the case of terrorists who have committed multiple murders, on purely practical grounds - dead terrorists don't have their buddies kidnapping people in attempts to get them freed. But other than that, I'm against the death penalty.
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  #8  
Old 10-06-2007, 07:29 PM
Der Trihs Der Trihs is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Stone
Semantics about 'humane' aside, I just don't get what's so hard about killing someone painlessly. We put people under anaesthetic all the time. They just put the person under, then do whatever they want to stop the heart. It should be foolproof., and aside from the IV insertion, completely painless.
Hardly foolproof, if they insert the needle wrong or get the dosage wrong. It's not hard to do it painlessly, but the real point is to make it look "civilized". We could just shoot them in the head with a high powered gun, but that would make us look like all the dictatorships that we like to pretend moral superiority over.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Stone
For that matter, is lethal injection really that problematic? Or is that hype built up by anti-death penalty people? I watched our dog get euthanized by lethal injection, and it was fast and totally painless. My understanding is that the technique is pretty foolproof - they give the person a drug that knocks them unconscious ( Pentathol or something like it ), and once they are unconscious they pump something like potassium into their blood which stops the heart pretty quickly and they die.
From what I've read ( not an expert ), there are drugs that paralyze, drugs that knock unconscious, and drugs that kill. The claim is that the unconsciousness-inducing drug is short lived, and that the victim is often parayzed and unconscious. Also, that the whole procedure is poorly done. And that the lethal drug involved is agonizing painful to anything conscious.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Stone
If there are screwups with this, my guess is that the problem isn't with the nature of the chemical cocktail used to kill the person, but the complex timers and automation used so that no one has to be the 'executioner'. Which is just stupid. Find a damned volunteer and do it right, if you must do it.
As I understand it, they have problems finding people who know how to do it properly who are willing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Stone
BTW, I'm against the death penalty in almost all cases. So I'd rather we not kill them at all. The exception I would make would be in the case of terrorists who have committed multiple murders, on purely practical grounds - dead terrorists don't have their buddies kidnapping people in attempts to get them freed.
Bad idea; that produces martyrs.
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  #9  
Old 10-06-2007, 07:31 PM
Slithy Tove Slithy Tove is offline
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What was so painfull about being guillitioned" "A slight chill on the neck," and it was all over.

Or if you were hanged by someone who knew what he was doing, your neck was snapped, your brain was dead and the next few minutes was dumb follow-through for the circulatory system.

Or the electric chair. Of course you know that electricity travels faster than neurotransmissions. You were literaly dead before you knew it.

What we really want isn't painless execution. We've had that option for thousands of years. We want it to not outrage the sensibilites of those doing the executing, who don't like all that goopy blood all over the place (either venous dark and evil, or arterial and shockingly brilliant), or the hanging victim shitting and obscenely tumescent, or the burnt corpse smell from electrocution stuck in our nostril hairs.

We claim that we kill people to make life more sacred, but we want to do it in a way that it won't desecrate the flesh or make us feel like savages. We want it boring so we won't enjoy it.
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  #10  
Old 10-06-2007, 09:11 PM
Patty O'Furniture Patty O'Furniture is offline
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Hollywood has done a good job of putting the terror in execution. And even without Hollywood's help, being walked up to the gallows or a guillotine has got to be pretty damned terrifying. And knowing that your head is going to be imploded in a Bosda Helmet has got to be right up there as well.

If we induce terror before death, what does that make us?

I think this is where the fanaitcal anti-death-penalty crowd is often coming from, and I can empathize. In order to take the terror out of being put to death - if that's even possible - we have to keep assuring the public that those being put to death remain more or less calm and the act is painless.
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  #11  
Old 10-07-2007, 01:14 AM
msmith537 msmith537 is offline
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Originally Posted by Patty O'Furniture
Hollywood has done a good job of putting the terror in execution. And even without Hollywood's help, being walked up to the gallows or a guillotine has got to be pretty damned terrifying. And knowing that your head is going to be imploded in a Bosda Helmet has got to be right up there as well.

I was just thinking about something like a Bosda Helmet. Weird.

The problem with gallows, guillotine, electric chair, firing squad, Bosda Helmet, Running Man Collar, or wrecking ball is that while they are quick and painless, they are incredibly gruesome.

I suppose the most humane method would be to fill an inmates cell with N2 or CO gas randomly.

Or we could go the opposite route and give inmates the "Hollywood" option for spectacular death sentences - lit on fire and tossed from an airplane, sprayed with liquid nitrogen and smashed with a hammer, thrown off a building onto a sharp object, smashed by a shipping container, etc.



"They say being eaten by crocodiles is just like going to sleep...in a giant blender."
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  #12  
Old 10-07-2007, 01:31 AM
Siam Sam Siam Sam is offline
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I've always been a fan of the guillotine myself. Fast and efficient, plus a real crowd-pleaser in the days when executions were public. I've read expert opinions that it really was the most humane form; over quick as a flash and no chance of a screw-up.

As for the carbon monoxide suggestion, I've read that that results in a blinding headache before you lose consciousness, but if that's true, that brings up the question about how people can succumb to it unknowlingly.

As for lethal injection, I've never been able to figure out why they can't just put the person into a very deep sleep before administering the fatal drugs. If they can do it for surgery, why can't they just go ahead and do it for the person being executed?
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  #13  
Old 10-07-2007, 01:32 AM
Siam Sam Siam Sam is offline
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Originally Posted by Patty O'Furniture
If we induce terror before death, what does that make us?
Playful like a cat.
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  #14  
Old 10-07-2007, 01:41 AM
Koxinga Koxinga is offline
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Originally Posted by msmith537
Or we could go the opposite route and give inmates the "Hollywood" option for spectacular death sentences - lit on fire and tossed from an airplane, sprayed with liquid nitrogen and smashed with a hammer, thrown off a building onto a sharp object, smashed by a shipping container, etc.
How about being given cyanide-laced cakes to eat, then shot, then stabbed, then having one's privates cut off? Surely that would be enough--not like one would have to be thrown into a freezing lake just to make sure, or anything.
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  #15  
Old 10-07-2007, 01:43 AM
Koxinga Koxinga is offline
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Originally Posted by Siam Sam
As for lethal injection, I've never been able to figure out why they can't just put the person into a very deep sleep before administering the fatal drugs. If they can do it for surgery, why can't they just go ahead and do it for the person being executed?
I thought that some people have asserted that you aren't actually unconscious during surgery--all the drugs to is render you incapable of *remembering* all that went on while you were on the table.

Food for thought, that.
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  #16  
Old 10-07-2007, 02:05 AM
Der Trihs Der Trihs is online now
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Originally Posted by Siam Sam
As for lethal injection, I've never been able to figure out why they can't just put the person into a very deep sleep before administering the fatal drugs. If they can do it for surgery, why can't they just go ahead and do it for the person being executed?
Probably because they have trouble getting people with the skill to do that to help, and because they really don't care anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Koxinga
I thought that some people have asserted that you aren't actually unconscious during surgery--all the drugs to is render you incapable of *remembering* all that went on while you were on the table.

Food for thought, that.
From what I've read, being conscious but paralyzed can happen when the anesthesiologist screws up; they administer drugs that knock you out, and others that paralyze you so you don't twitch by reflex. If they give too little of the knockout drugs but enough of the paralytic, you are in for a very bad time. Sometimes, unethical doctors have then administered a drug that has a fair chance of inducing short term amnesia; I don't recall the name.
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  #17  
Old 10-07-2007, 02:16 AM
Paul in Qatar Paul in Qatar is offline
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How could anything be more painless than a large firing squad? (OK, the barrel-full-of-explosives, maybe.)
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  #18  
Old 10-07-2007, 02:20 AM
Der Trihs Der Trihs is online now
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Originally Posted by Paul in Saudi
How could anything be more painless than a large firing squad? (OK, the barrel-full-of-explosives, maybe.)
What if they miss the head ? If painlessness is the goal, just shoot them in the head with something powerful enough to destroy the brain.
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  #19  
Old 10-07-2007, 02:25 AM
Siam Sam Siam Sam is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Koxinga
I thought that some people have asserted that you aren't actually unconscious during surgery--all the drugs to is render you incapable of *remembering* all that went on while you were on the table.

Food for thought, that.
I've gone under the knife a few times in my life, including once in Thailand, and so I hope that is not the case. If it is, I'm grateful for the drugs that don't allow me to remember it! But I'm skeptical about such claims.

Still, I've read those stories about people who claim to have still been conscious or woken up during surgery but could not let the surgeon know, and those make my hair stand on end!
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  #20  
Old 10-07-2007, 03:09 AM
KGS KGS is offline
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Nitrogren asphyxiation would allow the condemned person's organs to be harvested & transplanted, which is not possible with other execution methods (aside from hanging/guillotine, which are all but nonexistent in America today.) Lethal injection poisons the body, as does the gas chamber (is that method even used anymore?), and electrocution kinda fries 'em to a crisp.

Nitrogen also appears to be very quick and painless:
Quote:
Accidents in the industry that I have read about suggest that breathing pure nitrogen leads to extremely rapid unconsciousness. One or two breaths effectively purge all the oxygen out of the lungs, and the victim doesn't have time to react. There are probably no warning symptoms, as nitrogen has no physiological effects of its own.

One story is that a man entered a large nitrogen tank to clean it, not knowing that it had not been purged with air. He collapsed immediately, and his brother (a fellow worker) attempted to rescue him. Both were found dead of anoxia.
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  #21  
Old 10-07-2007, 03:13 AM
Siam Sam Siam Sam is offline
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Originally Posted by KGS
Nitrogren asphyxiation would allow the condemned person's organs to be harvested & transplanted, which is not possible with other execution methods (aside from hanging/guillotine, which are all but nonexistent in America today.)[/url]
Or bullet to the back of the head like in China, where they do harvest organs of executed prisoners for transplant. In fact, I've read there are suspicions that some prisoners with a particularly choice organ get moved up in the queue.
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  #22  
Old 10-07-2007, 04:39 AM
MrDibble MrDibble is offline
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How about going back to a brave, hearty execution style?

Capital punishment is barbaric.
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  #23  
Old 10-07-2007, 05:02 AM
Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Der Trihs
What if they miss the head ? If painlessness is the goal, just shoot them in the head with something powerful enough to destroy the brain.
I solved that problem.
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  #24  
Old 10-07-2007, 06:05 AM
Siam Sam Siam Sam is offline
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Originally Posted by MrDibble
How about going back to a brave, hearty execution style?
For sheer entertainment value, that one's really hard to beat.
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  #25  
Old 10-07-2007, 06:52 AM
glee glee is offline
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There's no evidence that capital punishment deters murders, and therefore many countries think it's an unjustifiable act and have banned it.

It's therefore hard to see why you would have a discusssion on making the actual act painless.
Innocent people have been executed - isn't that far worse than worrying about the OP?
As others have said, you also take no account of what it feels like to be condemned to death.
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  #26  
Old 10-07-2007, 10:28 AM
DirkGntly DirkGntly is offline
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Originally Posted by Der Trihs
From what I've read, being conscious but paralyzed can happen when the anesthesiologist screws up; they administer drugs that knock you out, and others that paralyze you so you don't twitch by reflex. If they give too little of the knockout drugs but enough of the paralytic, you are in for a very bad time. Sometimes, unethical doctors have then administered a drug that has a fair chance of inducing short term amnesia; I don't recall the name.
(emphasis mine - heh)
For the record - it's usually Versed. (pronounced verse-ED)
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  #27  
Old 10-07-2007, 10:29 AM
athelas athelas is offline
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Originally Posted by Slithy Tove
What we really want isn't painless execution. We've had that option for thousands of years. We want it to not outrage the sensibilites of those doing the executing, who don't like all that goopy blood all over the place (either venous dark and evil, or arterial and shockingly brilliant), or the hanging victim shitting and obscenely tumescent, or the burnt corpse smell from electrocution stuck in our nostril hairs.

We claim that we kill people to make life more sacred, but we want to do it in a way that it won't desecrate the flesh or make us feel like savages. We want it boring so we won't enjoy it.
Which, it should be pointed out, is not an unusual level of hypocrisy. Most people like eating meat but would not want to see the process by which it is made, and are in favor of surgery while still being grossed out by it. Give people the option of being insulated from the unpleasant realities behind useful goods, and they'll take it.

Last edited by athelas; 10-07-2007 at 10:30 AM..
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  #28  
Old 10-07-2007, 11:25 AM
Slithy Tove Slithy Tove is offline
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Originally Posted by athelas
Which, it should be pointed out, is not an unusual level of hypocrisy. Most people like eating meat but would not want to see the process by which it is made, and are in favor of surgery while still being grossed out by it. Give people the option of being insulated from the unpleasant realities behind useful goods, and they'll take it.
Bolding mine - since I'm going to jump on the word "useful." We need concentrated protein in the form of meat, and, like hydrogen vs petro-fuels, our level of production/distribution isn't equal to the alternatives. But what need does capital punishment serve?

Not blood-lust, since we say "that's the impulse which motivated the person in the execution chamber; it's not the reason we maintain that chamber ourselves."

Not prevention. Murder occurs more in some societies than others based on complex factors in those societies, not simple "kill and you shall be killed" rules.

Not revenge. If that were the case, we'd handcuff the condemned to a stanchion in a mock-up of a convenience store or bedroom or whatever, and let the next of kin kill him in the same manner of death as his victim.

...Or maybe it is revenge. I did read somewhere (but neglected to write it down and carry it in my wallet in case I needed it for a cite - sorry) that the relatives of murder victims actually had little sense of "closure" after executions.

I also read somewhere that one of the most difficult things that armies do when training recruits is to get them to overcome the impulse to kill other human beings.

Perhaps, do you think that, with a few sad executions, people don't want to kill each other, and once it's done for them by the state, they derive little satisfaction from it? Why don't we just rely on that natural state to keep the murder rate down, and separate those who've crossed that line and have taken another human life into a life of controlled hardship for the rest of their lives?
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  #29  
Old 10-07-2007, 11:04 PM
Stoid Stoid is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim B.
But I do approve of capital punishment, which I actually see as simply a form of euthanasia.
Really? And what if it was you being euthanized...for a crime you didn't commit? Would you be ok with it then?

I know this isn't the topic of the OP, I'm sorry, it just came up when I read it. I think there are certainly people who absolutely deserve to be euthanized, but until the system is truly flawless, absolutely perfect, ZERO errors...it's indefensible.
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  #30  
Old 10-07-2007, 11:21 PM
Koxinga Koxinga is offline
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Originally Posted by Stoid
Really? And what if it was you being euthanized...for a crime you didn't commit? Would you be ok with it then?

I know this isn't the topic of the OP, I'm sorry, it just came up when I read it. I think there are certainly people who absolutely deserve to be euthanized, but until the system is truly flawless, absolutely perfect, ZERO errors...it's indefensible.
Playing extreme devil's advocate, here, but . . . why? If it benefits society overall, why does it have to be perfectly accurate? Yes, it's a pity that one person dies when he doesn't deserve it, but if one or more additional innocent lives are saved by the practice of the death penalty, to balance that one innocent death, doesn't society as a whole come out ahead?
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Old 10-07-2007, 11:23 PM
KGS KGS is offline
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I know this isn't the topic of the OP, I'm sorry, it just came up when I read it. I think there are certainly people who absolutely deserve to be euthanized, but until the system is truly flawless, absolutely perfect, ZERO errors...it's indefensible.
Well, so far, only one death row victim has been proven innocent after he was executed (and this was in Texas.) That's pretty impressive. And keeping prisoners alive COSTS MONEY -- I'd rather not pay billions of tax dollars to feed, shelter, and provide medical care for the world's worst human beings. Just gas 'em all, who cares if a few innocents fall through the cracks.

Quote:
Really? And what if it was you being euthanized...for a crime you didn't commit? Would you be ok with it then?
Seriously? If I were falsely convicted (and didn't have the money to pay a decent lawyer to reopen my case), I'd choose death over life in prison every time. Why, wouldn't you?

Last edited by KGS; 10-07-2007 at 11:23 PM..
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  #32  
Old 10-07-2007, 11:59 PM
Der Trihs Der Trihs is online now
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Originally Posted by Slithy Tove
Bolding mine - since I'm going to jump on the word "useful." We need concentrated protein in the form of meat, and, like hydrogen vs petro-fuels, our level of production/distribution isn't equal to the alternatives. But what need does capital punishment serve?

Not blood-lust, since we say "that's the impulse which motivated the person in the execution chamber; it's not the reason we maintain that chamber ourselves."
I think that it is. No matter the arguments against the death penalty, it all seems to boil down to the American lust to kill. Our collective ego doesn't allow us to admit that we kill because we enjoy it, so we go through rituals to convince ourselves that we are civilized. But if the motivation wasn't bloodlust, we'd care more about executing innocent people; instead I see people just handwave that problem away. We don't really care if the people being executed are guilty or innocent, just so long as we can kill someone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Koxinga
Yes, it's a pity that one person dies when he doesn't deserve it, but if one or more additional innocent lives are saved by the practice of the death penalty, to balance that one innocent death, doesn't society as a whole come out ahead?
Why should anyone care about a society that regards the individuals who comprise it as expendable ? That's the point where you should stop worrying about the welfare of society, and start looking for a way to destroy it.

And I see no reason to beleive that it DOES benefit society to begin with.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KGS
Well, so far, only one death row victim has been proven innocent after he was executed (and this was in Texas.) That's pretty impressive.
Not really, since there isn't much of an effort to check. Most people don't care; they just want to kill someone. Anyone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KGS
And keeping prisoners alive COSTS MONEY -- I'd rather not pay billions of tax dollars to feed, shelter, and provide medical care for the world's worst human beings. Just gas 'em all, who cares if a few innocents fall through the cracks.
The innocents do. And how are the "world's worst human beings" much worse than all the "kill 'em all, and who cares about the innocents" death penalty enthusists ? Does going through a legal ritual before killing make them morally superior, given their lack of concern over the killing of innocents ?
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  #33  
Old 10-08-2007, 01:07 AM
KGS KGS is offline
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Originally Posted by Der Trihs
And how are the "world's worst human beings" much worse than all the "kill 'em all, and who cares about the innocents" death penalty enthusists ?
Because I recognize the potential consequences of my actions. Criminals do not. That's what makes them criminals.

Quote:
And I see no reason to beleive that it DOES benefit society to begin with.
Death Penalty benefits society by (1) saving tax dollars, and (2) sending a message to all criminals that there are BIG consequences for murder (and, in some states, child rape.) Some criminals aren't deterred by the idea of life in prison -- heck, many repeat offenders simply don't know how to behave outside prison, they have become institutionalized. So if a repeat offender wants to pick up his 3rd strike just so he'll get 3 hots & a cot for the rest of his life, all on Uncle Sam's tab, I'd rather it be a bank robbery or grand theft auto.

And some murderers are so psychopathic they don't give a shit about whether they live or die, so lack of a death penalty won't deter them anyway.

Last edited by KGS; 10-08-2007 at 01:08 AM..
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  #34  
Old 10-08-2007, 07:06 AM
Slithy Tove Slithy Tove is offline
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Actually, it costs more to execute someione than lock them up for life

And what about it's uniform application? Minorities more often than whites, men more often than women, Renters more often than people who can mortgage property to pay legal costs. They all killed somebody, but some of them are going to die for it and others aren't. Are you OK with why it appears that some aren't?

How about this example: serial killer Gary Ridgeway killed at least 48 women, but to spare the state the cost of trying him for each murders (typo: to effect "closure" for the families), because he agreed to confess to most of them he'll be allowed to live out his life in jail.

The same year Ridgeway was arrested, a punk in Des Moines Washington, a mile or two from Ridgeway's house, was pulled over by a cop. The punk went into a panic and shot the cop dead. He was sentenced to death.
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  #35  
Old 10-08-2007, 07:21 AM
Pushkin Pushkin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Koxinga
How about being given cyanide-laced cakes to eat, then shot, then stabbed, then having one's privates cut off? Surely that would be enough--not like one would have to be thrown into a freezing lake just to make sure, or anything.
You should be thinking of the possibilities of rehabilitation by having the men on death row enrolled with the military on suicide missions. Send, say, a dozen of them, all convicted murderers, rapists etc behind enemy lines to carry out dangerous missions. The few that return can be pardoned.
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  #36  
Old 10-08-2007, 08:02 AM
Slypork Slypork is offline
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I say we nuke 'em from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.
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  #37  
Old 10-08-2007, 10:00 AM
Shodan Shodan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slithy Tove
And what about it's uniform application? Minorities more often than whites, men more often than women, Renters more often than people who can mortgage property to pay legal costs. They all killed somebody, but some of them are going to die for it and others aren't. Are you OK with why it appears that some aren't?
Actually, it should be more widely applied, but being sentenced to death seems to correlate with killing a stranger.
Quote:
How about this example: serial killer Gary Ridgeway killed at least 48 women, but to spare the state the cost of trying him for each murders (typo: to effect "closure" for the families), because he agreed to confess to most of them he'll be allowed to live out his life in jail.

The same year Ridgeway was arrested, a punk in Des Moines Washington, a mile or two from Ridgeway's house, was pulled over by a cop. The punk went into a panic and shot the cop dead. He was sentenced to death.
Again, an argument that Ridgeway should be executed, not an argument that the cop-killer should not be.

Regards,
Shodan
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  #38  
Old 10-08-2007, 10:18 AM
Slithy Tove Slithy Tove is offline
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More like an argument that we do it to every killer, or we do it to no killers, since wheather you'll be executed or not has more to do with factors that are unrelated to your crime (race, gender, income).

And if we unifromly condemn all killers, where do we draw the line on aggravating circumstances? Go back to Hammurabi, and execute masons whose buildings collapse and kill the occupants?
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  #39  
Old 10-08-2007, 10:20 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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Rights and wrongs of the death penalty aside, killing a person by a painful or distressing method is morally worse than killing a person by a painless, not-so-distressing one, isn't it?

However, I guess there's a possibility that if it was made too nice and sanitary, that this might erode the hesitation to apply the punishment - if it's not really that bad, then there could be a tendency to over-apply it.

So how about this: If we must have the death penalty, it should be made as painless and non-distressing as possible for the subject, at the same time as being made as messy and unpleasant as possible for everyone else, as a deterrent against excessive application.
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Old 10-08-2007, 10:26 AM
Pleonast Pleonast is offline
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Why are we arguing the merits of capital punishment in this thread? The OP wanted to discuss whether nitrogen asphyxiation would be a painless alternative method of execution.

I'm against capital punishment (on religious grounds), but until we can get it banned, a painless method is much preferred. Don't make the perfect (no executions) the enemy of the good (painless executions).
Quote:
What was so painfull about being guillitioned" "A slight chill on the neck," and it was all over.
Or if you were hanged by someone who knew what he was doing, your neck was snapped, your brain was dead and the next few minutes was dumb follow-through for the circulatory system.
Or the electric chair. Of course you know that electricity travels faster than neurotransmissions. You were literaly dead before you knew it.
How do we know decapitation is painless? The brain is left intact--why wouldn't the subject feel pain?

Hanging is instant, if it's done right. Too easy to botch, though. Same with electrocution.

The problem I see with asphyxiation is that it's too slow. The subject will realize he's passing while it's happening. To me, that doesn't pass the cruel test.

The Bosda Hat (have you applied for a patent yet?) would probably pass the cruel test (it's instant and painless), but is too messy for regular use.
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  #41  
Old 10-08-2007, 10:47 AM
Szlater Szlater is offline
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Originally Posted by Pleonast
The Bosda Hat (have you applied for a patent yet?) would probably pass the cruel test (it's instant and painless), but is too messy for regular use.

Captive bolt gun, like they use for slaughtering cattle?
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  #42  
Old 10-08-2007, 11:31 AM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
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To understand why the execution mechanics of capital punishment are in the crude state that currently exists, you should all watch the Errol Morris documentary, Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr.. Leuchter is a self-taught "execution engineer" who made it his life's work for a while to make execution machinery more efficient. (It's particularly creepy to hear him talking about how underpowered electrocution systems "cook the meat too much.") Leuchter designed the lethal injection system used in New Jersey that many modern lethal injection systems are based on, and opposes gas chamber systems on the basis of hazard to operators. Of course, Leuchter is also not a doctor and apparently not in possession of even rudimentary knowledge of biochemistry despite posing as an expert consultant in a number of cases, and ended up as a lecturer on the Holocaust denial circuit after his forensic "examinations" at Auschwitz and Birkenau, which were seriously flawed. This is one of your leading experts in the field of execution. (For obvious ethical reasons physicians aren't involved in the process.)

As msmith537 notes, there are plenty of ways to quickly and essentially painlessly execute someone, but they all pretty much leave some kind of mess, and no method is utterly foolproof. Regarding the search for compassionate/painless methods of execution, it is a reflection upon the culture rather than for the benefit of the prisoner. What this is supposed to accomplish, other than eliminating the perpetrator as a threat to society, is in question; there is no evidence that the death penalty is a deterrent to crime, and the cost necessary to assure that the accused has had every reasonable opportunity to exonerate himself (and still the system fails) is extraordinary.

Of course, we can't seem to figure out what we're doing with incarceration, either; mandatory sentencing makes for a nice campaign slogan, but it results in a large prison population that is no more rehabilitated or able to cope in polite society, whether they're released in five years or in twenty, and prison overcrowding often results in early release of dangerous and violent felons despite sentencing laws. There are certainly a large majority of prisoners who cannot be rehabilitated over any length of time using any extant method. There are definitely people I think should never be released back into society, but the legal system has enough flaws that the death penalty is a questionable policy at best.

Given that you're going to execute people, though, the method suggested by the o.p. is certainly no worse than any other method in use, and better than most.

Stranger
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  #43  
Old 10-08-2007, 11:34 AM
Shodan Shodan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slithy Tove
More like an argument that we do it to every killer, or we do it to no killers, since wheather you'll be executed or not has more to do with factors that are unrelated to your crime (race, gender, income).
I expect that killing a stranger is considered worse than killing an acquaintance or relative (which is what characterizes most murders in the US). So the factor is not exactly unrelated to your crime.
Quote:
And if we unifromly condemn all killers, where do we draw the line on aggravating circumstances? Go back to Hammurabi, and execute masons whose buildings collapse and kill the occupants?
I would argue in favor of executing all murderers, not all killers - there's a difference. But the idea of judging intent and circumstance does not change significantly from what it is now.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangetout
However, I guess there's a possibility that if it was made too nice and sanitary, that this might erode the hesitation to apply the punishment - if it's not really that bad, then there could be a tendency to over-apply it.

So how about this: If we must have the death penalty, it should be made as painless and non-distressing as possible for the subject, at the same time as being made as messy and unpleasant as possible for everyone else, as a deterrent against excessive application.
That's an interesting point, but there are two flaws that I can see -
  • Making an execution messy would have relatively little impact on anyone who did not witness it. Maybe a gunshot wound to the head would be a quick, painless, but messy form of execution. But having the brain splatter would not be very hard on me - I am OK with the messy aspects of, for instance, lethal injection - people crapping their pants on death or whatever. So I would not be "deterred" (so to speak) from widely applying the DP just because cleaning up the execution chamber would be unpleasant for the guards.
  • I don't think we need any deterrent to executing truly guilty people. There is not (in my opinion) such a thing as executing "too many" factually guilty murderers. Everyone who is factually guilty (to the extent that this can be determined) should be executed. And therefore it would be my moral duty to overcome whatever repugnance I might feel for decapitation or shooting or whatever messy execution method is chosen. IYSWIM.
Regards,
Shodan
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  #44  
Old 10-08-2007, 11:38 AM
1010011010 1010011010 is offline
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Originally Posted by Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor
Execution by plastic explosive. Wrap a 25 pound mass of C4 around a football helmet [...] Instant, utterly painless, & completely certain.
What about the neck strain prior to detonation? Cruel and unusual, especially considering how excessive 25 pounds of C4 would be. A detcord halo would be sufficient. You're also missing the trend for execution methods to have less spectacle and mess.
Quote:
Originally Posted by glee
There's no evidence that capital punishment deters murders, and therefore many countries think it's an unjustifiable act and have banned it.
How many murders are committed by people that have been executed?

The primary function of imprisonment is to separate criminals from the rest of society for the protection of society. Rehabilitation, punishment, deterrence, et al. is secondary. Execution is a particularly permanent form of "separation from society". If we have no intention of restoring someone's freedom, how is it humane to keep them in a cage for the rest of their life?

Personally, I'd be inclined to give prisoners the option of suicide by some fairly harmless means (In keeping with the thread... breathing mask with pure nitrogen, perhaps?).
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  #45  
Old 10-08-2007, 11:52 AM
DoctorJ DoctorJ is offline
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As for lethal injection, I've never been able to figure out why they can't just put the person into a very deep sleep before administering the fatal drugs. If they can do it for surgery, why can't they just go ahead and do it for the person being executed?
The biggest problem is that accurately and consistently putting someone into unconsciousness, and confirming it, requires a medical professional. AFAIK, every licensing board or authority for medical professionals expressly forbids involvement in an execution.
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  #46  
Old 10-08-2007, 11:54 AM
Sam Stone Sam Stone is offline
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Originally Posted by 1010011010
How many murders are committed by people that have been executed?
Maybe a better question to ask would be "How many murders have been committed by people who would have been imprisoned, but instead were acquitted because the jury wouldn't convict someone and send him to his death?"

There is evidence that acquittal rates are higher in death penalty cases than in life imprisonment cases. Jurors seem to require a higher standard of proof in cases where the defendent's life is on the line. As a result, the death penalty may actually result in more murderers being on the streets.

The death penalty can be shown to be more expensive to society (appeals are expensive, and people stay on death row for years or decades anyway), there's no evidence that it deters murder, and it may result in more murderers going free.

That's why I'm against it.
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  #47  
Old 10-08-2007, 12:14 PM
XT XT is offline
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Would it be cruel and unusual to simply make the condemned watch every episode of Survivor? Surely that would kill them...though I'm unsure how painless it would be.

I suppose if we HAVE to kill people nitrogen asphyxiation is a pretty good way to do it. Its painless, it seems fool proof, and its not as gruesome as some of the other methods proposed (I for one don't want to see some guy's head imploded using the explosive helmet method).

Personally I think the death penalty is ineffective, overly costly and should be abolished. With all of the recent evidence of miscarrages of justice (some in capital cases), and in light of how much it costs to actually get someone TO the place of execution (appeals, court costs, etc), I just don't see the worth.

-XT
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  #48  
Old 10-08-2007, 02:22 PM
Shodan Shodan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xtisme
I suppose if we HAVE to kill people nitrogen asphyxiation is a pretty good way to do it. Its painless, it seems fool proof, and its not as gruesome as some of the other methods proposed
I would bet that, if we adopted nitrogen as a method of execution, there would be lawsuits alleging that it is not painless or foolproof.

Similar, in fact, to the lawsuits now alleging that lethal injection is "cruel or unusual". It's good enough for major surgery, but not good enough to kill someone.

Regards,
Shodan
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  #49  
Old 10-08-2007, 02:41 PM
KGS KGS is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Stone
There is evidence that acquittal rates are higher in death penalty cases than in life imprisonment cases. Jurors seem to require a higher standard of proof in cases where the defendent's life is on the line. As a result, the death penalty may actually result in more murderers being on the streets.
The jury could always choose a life sentence, if they're too timid to sentence someone to death. If they're not given that choice, that means our legal system is broken.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shodan
I would bet that, if we adopted nitrogen as a method of execution, there would be lawsuits alleging that it is not painless or foolproof.
Has any study established the painlessness of nitrogen asphyxiation? Because, unlike other "messy" methods, this is something we CAN test empirically -- just get volunteers to breath pure nitrogen, and revive them after they pass out. Nitrogen itself is not dangerous, it's the lack of oxygen that kills you.

Last edited by KGS; 10-08-2007 at 02:41 PM..
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  #50  
Old 10-08-2007, 02:48 PM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
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Originally Posted by KGS
Has any study established the painlessness of nitrogen asphyxiation? Because, unlike other "messy" methods, this is something we CAN test empirically -- just get volunteers to breath pure nitrogen, and revive them after they pass out. Nitrogen itself is not dangerous, it's the lack of oxygen that kills you.
Well, except for the whole "brain damage" thing. But heck, most people aren't really using those brain cells anyway.

Stranger
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