Ohio performs the first humane execution (finally)

Posting this in MPSIMS since, really, I’d just like to share since I haven’t seen this mentioned yet. If it gets dragged into debate, I hope the mods will move it where appropriate.

For years most US states employing capital punishment have used lethal injection to execute their convicts. In the past, this was done in three successive stages; sodium thiopental to induce unconsciousness, a skeletal muscle paralytic to freeze the diaphragm, and a jab of KCl for cardiac arrest.

This has, to me, always seemed like a fantastically retarded way to kill somebody, but I can see why it’s used. It’s a very formulaic, systematic kind of method. Put them to sleep, stop their breathing, stop their heart. Death by the numbers. But unfortunately, they tend to fuck it up. Constantly. Dumbasses mix the shit together and precipitate it into a white, gunky mass freezes in the lines. Dosages are miscalculated. Retards try to preform cutdowns for vascular access. Humane, it isn’t.

I (and many here on the SDMB, I’ve read,) have often mused aloud: why not just spike these unfortunates with a massive dose of fast-acting sedatives? Why not indeed - Ohio has finally done this for the first time, injecting multiple grams of sodium thiopental, an ulta-fast acting barbiturate, into Kenneth Biros.

I say: about fuckin’ time. If you think this method is inhumane (rather than capital punishment itself, which is a can of worms better opened in GD) then you must also think getting put under for surgery is torture, too.

No big revelations to present. I’m just boggled that it took so long to figure this out.

It still leaves room for error. Dosages, as you said, can be miscalculated. From a purely practical point of view, wouldn’t the only way to guarantee a pain-free execution be the sudden and instantaneous complete destruction of the brain as an organ? It’d be terribly messy, though.

Couldn’t you cover your bases with the dosage by simply dosing them with enough to fell an elephant? Seems kind of silly to try and figure out just the right dose to kill someone – if you’re doing it to kill them, it isn’t like pumping extra sodum thiopental into their system is going to do any more harm or be any less humane.

Hey, that shit costs money! :stuck_out_tongue:

Sledgehammers are pretty cheap though. If you got a good, beefy jailer to smack you in the head with it I bet you wouldn’t feel much of anything.

I’m boggled as to why they don’t use the same barbiturate used in animals (it is not sodium thiopental). When I assisted/did euthanasias, they usually included some sedative/anesthetic agent followed by the barbiturate.

Bolding and color added. So, the big innovation is that they upped the dose?

A novel experimental approach for the death penalty, tested on someone likely to elicit a minimum amount of compassion. How wonderfully enlightened.

What an…interesting…PO Doper name/topic combination.

It’s been all over the news here for a couple of weeks, of course, and it bugs the shit out of me to hear the reporters refer to the old protocol as a “three-drug cocktail.” As Interconnected pointed out, the drugs are supposed to be administered in succession. That ain’t a cocktail, unless you normally drink a martini by downing first the gin, then the vermouth, and then eating the olive.

So does nuking from orbit, but it’s the only way to be sure.

If we must kill people, I would have thought asphyxiation by Nitrogen or some other comparatively inert gas would be the most humane - no needles - the subject just falls unconscious (perhaps without even being aware of it happening), then dies.

No, no…you take a mouthful of ice, then pour the vermouth over it, chug the gin, and then spit out the ice and stuck the olive in your ear. That’s how you drink a martini.

As for execution technology, the field doesn’t attract the most competent of people.


Pentobarbital with phenytoin (an antiseizure drug) added. Pento, by itself, is also used for pets in status epilepticus but had been increasingly difficult to find in anything but the expensive brand name Nembutal. We don’t need them deciding to kill people with it and making it even more expensive and difficult to find.

I know it is pentobarbital, different from thiopental. I remember the brand name Beuthanasia, a couple of years ago…

And I don’t know why, but I found that sentence… amusing. :wink:

Humane premeditated homicide – an oxymoron if I ever heard one.

But, if you’re going to kill someone in the most humane way possible than I suppose that would be inert gas asphyxiation. Or, lots and lots of opiates.

If it was me, I suppose I’d choose a combination, enough opiates to string me out, then inert gas asphyxiation. Best of both worlds. :wink:

Hmm… falling elephants. I think you’re onto something there! :smiley:

Why not just put the overdose of sedatives in their last meal?

I vote for sexual exhaustion and Monte Christo. Might as well go happy.

Sure, but don’t blame the Ohio press. “Cocktail” as applied to pharmaceuticals has become a term of art at least since the AIDS cocktail appeared on the scene almost 15 years ago. That’s not a cocktail either – my understanding is that the regimens can be extremely complex, although Wikipedia says they’ve become simpler in recent years. But the term propagated, and now we all understand that a drug cocktail is a protocol involving several different drugs with different effects that work in concert to achieve a medical end, whether taken as a single dose or not.


The sandwich or The Count of?