Arizona to use Zyklon B to kill prisoners

So was Zyklon B, sort of. The canisters were filled with pellets that were then heated to make the hydrogen cyanide vaporize.

Well, sure, Zyklon B had to be in a form where you could transport it without killing the truck driver.

But it wasn’t a pressurized gas bottle either. I’ve looked before and not found information how the HCN was bound up in pellets.

Zyklon B was prussic acid (another name, essentially, for hydrogen cyanide) in an adsorbent of diatomaceous earth, which is really good for holding onto things (it’s used in things like water filters and other stuff that purifies things). Diatomaceous earth particles have immense surface area for their tiny size. The DE soaked up the HCN (I’m getting tired of writing everything out) like a sponge. If you’ve ever soaked up liquid with a sponge you know how the sponge doesn’t feel very wet, but if you squeeze it a lot of water comes out. You can also get the water to leave the sponge by, say, throwing it into a microwave oven and heating it up, getting lovely gaseous steam. That’s basically the mechanism at work with Zyklon B - the DE soaks up the HCN and holds onto it. Heat up the DE and the HCN vaporizes and leaves the DE, escaping into the air as a cloud of poisonous gas. (Zyklon B also had an added eye irritant to, I guess, give a brief warning to a handler if something went wrong and running away fast was a good idea).

The chemists probably winced at that paragraph, but it’s a simplified explanation for how the pellets worked, why they were (relatively) safe to transport, and how they were made to do their lethal stuff.

Ah. I’d seen DE mentioned but figured it was filler.

My death penalty plan is to take death row prisoners in an airplane over the ocean at 10,000 feet and chuck then out the back without a parachute. The Nazis never did that did they?

So Nazis are bad but El Proceso is OK?

This is from “The Pharmacist of Auschwitz: The Untold Story” by Patricia Posner"

Capesius then had no idea on his first day at the camp that his prewar employer, Farben/Bayer, funded many of the camp’s medical experiments. Nor did he know that Farben also profited from Auschwitz’s pioneering use of Zyklon B, a cyanide-based pesticide used to deadly effect in its gas chambers.
Decades before anyone heard the name Auschwitz, Farben had purchased a controlling interest in the Zyklon B patent. Bayer was primarily responsible for sales and distribution. It was originally used at Auschwitz to fumigate prisoner barracks and clothing. But it had assumed a more important and deadly role some eighteen months before Capesius reported for duty, when top SS officials and the Chiefs of Reich Ministries had met at a conference in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee. There they had planned how to coordinate the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question.”
The Nazis had abandoned all plans for expulsion and resettlement of European Jewry. SS chief Himmler summoned the camp commandant to Berlin and informed him that the Führer had given the order for complete extermination. Shortly after the Wannsee Conference, Hitler gave one of his most infamous speeches on the fate of Europe’s Jews. In a frenzied delivery, the Führer promised: “The Jews will be liquidated at least for a thousand years!”
By this time, more than a million Jews had been killed by mobile firing squads (Einsatzgruppen), mostly in Poland, Ukraine and Russia. At the Chelmno camp northwest of Warsaw in September 1941, Jews had been gassed with carbon monoxide fed into specially constructed vans. At other early death camps in Poland such as Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor, the Nazis also relied mostly on carbon monoxide, usually delivering it by diesel engines to sealed rooms.
But at Auschwitz the technology of mass murder had advanced. After much experimentation Höss and his staff settled on Zyklon B. Its inexpensive bluish gray granules turned into a deadly gas when exposed to air. The first fully functional gas chamber at Auschwitz began operating in March 1942, only a month after Hitler had promised to liquidate the continent’s Jews. The patents for Zyklon B’s chemical formula were held by a German company, Degesch (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Schädlingsbekämpfung – German Corporation for Pest Control). Farben owned 42.5% of Degesch and controlled its executive board. Degesch’s wartime chairman was a Farben director. The company also had a separate patent on an eye irritant it added to Zyklon B, a way to warn people of the presence of the otherwise colorless and poisonous gas.
Kurt Gerstein, the SS’s chief of its Technical Disinfection Division, insisted Degesch remove the warning irritant from all Zyklon B sold to the SS. When Degesch executives resisted, afraid that they might open themselves to generic competition, Gerstein shared the grisly details of how their product was used as the preferred killing agent. It was necessary, he informed them, to remove the irritant so that those about to be gassed would have no last minute warning that might cause mass panic. Instead of recoiling in horror that the SS wanted their insecticide to kill upwards of several million people, the Degesch executives agreed to remove the warning irritant and ramped up production to record levels. (It was around the time of the first large SS orders of Zyklon B that Gerstein, haunted by gruesome images of a botched gassing of 800 Jews by carbon monoxide, confessed to a German bishop the details of the Nazi mass murder underway in Eastern Europe. It was the first time a ranking SS officer had confirmed the Final Solution. Gerstein’s confession was sent to the Vatican by sealed diplomatic pouch and stayed a secret through the war).
Starting in 1942, as a result of the enormous orders from the SS, Degesch’s profits from Zyklon B soared. Auschwitz alone ordered a stunning 23 tons of the insecticide. In 1943, Zyklon B accounted for a remarkable 70% of Degesch’s earnings."

Start reading it for free:

This kind of stuff is part of why no company today will sell U.S. states deadly chemicals. Which makes one wonder how they are even obtaining sulphuric acid or ammonia or whatever— surely they can’t just send someone to a chemical retailer and ask for the invoice to be made out to “Arizona Department of Corrections”.

But also, who was willing to tell Hitler no? Plata o plomo? as Escobar said.

I don’t really understand the bit about companies not wanting to be associated with executions. After Gary Gilmore was executed by firing squad, did anybody ask what brand of guns or ammunition the executioners used? When they electrocute people, do reporters note which company supplied the electricity for the chair? “About those ropes you use, Mr. Hangman…what brand are they?”

A-My friend was killed in a car accident!
B-What brand was the car?
A-Um, it was a Chevy.
B-Then Chevy is a bad brand, stay away from it! I hate those guys! They killed your friend!
A-Actually it was the other guy’s fault. He was driving a Toyota.
B-Oh, so Toyota is the bad brand! Chevy is ok!

Ironically (or not), Bruno Tesch and Karl Weinbacher were executed for their crimes— by hanging!

NB the “Hitler told me to” defense did not keep them off the gallows. It was proved in court they knew what the gas was for.

I think it matters whether it’s a common, commodity product or a specialty item.

The electricity that is used to power the lights in the prison is diverted to power the electric chair? A rope suitable for theater and rock climbing, that carries no brand name, that anyone can buy without mentioning what they plan to use it for? Yeah, I don’t think anyone cares.

But a name-brand drug that wants to be associated with healing? And that’s restricted and only sold to approved customers (used by prescription). I can see why the manufacturers care. And I can understand why Airgas, which doesn’t have any benign reason to do business with a prison doesn’t want to sell nitrogen for executions.

Many states have a total loon or two in their state legislature*. Their crazed and incoherent babbling can not be taken as representative of the entire legislature or even one party.

  • and now Congress has one.

“If you can’t do the time, don’t do the time.”

Although I am no fan of the DP, the fact that some inhuman murderer might not like it is not a big deal to me.

There is no "humane’ method, especially as many argue that the DP is inhumane on it’s face.

So, AZ has picked a method which is just as bad or as good as any- if you assume the DP is legit.

The ire over Cyanide gas poisoning is not really that it is nazi, or inhumane, it is that it is a Death Penalty and to many the DP is wrong. Rather than just say “I am opposed to the DP, no matter how it is done” they come up with crazy parallels between cyanide gas and the holocaust, trying to equate Arizona with the Holocaust.

People posting about AZ using Zyklon B(which they are not, they are using the same active ingredient , which is not the same at all) are not angered about Cyanide, they are horrified about the DP itself.

Be honest dudes. Just say you do not approve of the DP itself. I do not, but I can see a argument for it in some special cases.

Those cases being killers who continue to kill even when locked up. Drug lords who order killings from prison. Prisoners who shank guards or other prisoners. Prisoners who get out and kill again. If Life Imprisonment does not stop them from killing, then we must use the DP, otherwise we just allow more innocent deaths to occur on our conscience.

Sulfuric acid, ammonia, and so forth are dirt-common industrial chemicals used in a crap-load of manufacturing processes. You can buy them by the train-car load if you want. I’d imagine they’re a lot easier to source than the actual pharmaceuticals used in lethal injections.

Actually, I’ve been totally honest the entire time in this thread that I am opposed to the death penalty. I am, however, willing to discuss it, and how/whether it is possible to do it in a more humane/less cruel manner than it might otherwise be done.

Yeah, both kill via HCN. The other stuff included is sort of irrelevant. It’s the same mechanism of death.

I don’t like the use of cyanide because it’s pretty easy to wind up with a scenario where the target of the execution spends 10-15 minutes gasping for breath, which is not a nice way to go. I dislike torture as well as the death penalty, and really can’t approve of death by torture. I could argue for several other methods that would be less likely to result in a prolonged death, and would probably be quicker regardless.

One advantage of nitrogen is that it is more “reversible” than cyanide. If, for whatever reason, after the gassing process has begun, the governor suddenly gives an emergency stay of execution or whatever, you can immediately administer oxygen to the condemned man who’s being “nitrogen’d.”

With cyanide it would be a lot trickier. You’d have to administer far more first aid, and antidotes (if antidotes even exist.)

Are you seriously arguing that there’s no difference? That it doesn’t matter whether a person is killed quickly or tortured to death?

You do you.

Of course it matters, but Cyanide has been ruled to be quick and humane.

I do not suggest flaying alive or hung, drawn & quartered.

So, what painless method would you suggest? Of those in use.

Thus, as I said "is just as bad or as good as any" electric chair, gas chamber, hanging, firing squad and lethal injection. AFAIK those are the only court approved methods. None are foolproof or totally painless, especially if done wrong.

I get the impression that we’ve gotten to the point as a society that anything that isn’t a zero (on a 0-10 scale of painful deaths) counts as “torturing a condemned man to death.”

The Constitution merely bans “cruel and unusual punishment.” Somehow we’ve stretched that to mean that anything that isn’t a totally painless death is therefore “torture.”

I’m not a fan of the death penalty, and if it must be done, I’ve suggested nitrogen (as many other Dopers have.) But somehow we’ve gotten ourselves to the point where any death that inflicts any pain is “torture.”

But Nitrogen has not been used yet. Some states have considered it as a back up. It may well be the perfect method- or be really bad and not practical.