Why isn't anesthesia used for executions?

There’s been a lot of moral and legal issues surrounding legal executions, much of it surrounding methods of execution which are thought to be or legally considered cruel and unusual. Question I’m wondering about is why not just use anesthesia to painlessly put the guy completely out cold, and then whatever happens after that won’t be felt?

I don’t recall ever seeing this issue raised, but it’s a pretty simple idea so it must have been considered and rejected (which is why I’m putting this in FQ).

Because anesthesiologists tend not to approve of using their training to kill people.

“tend to”.

Even if that’s accurate, it doesn’t answer the question. There are a lot of anesthesiologists around, and executions are very rare. All you need is one.

Already done to death here:

The first drug of the lethal injection protocol is a sedative (or combination of sedatives, depending on the protocol) that sedates and knocks out the condemned. Not sure if that counts as “anaesthesia” strictly speaking, but it seems to fit in the context of your question.

As to why it’s not used in other forms of execution, that’s a little more complicated. Some believe that the condemned deserves to suffer because he deserves it. Some believe that the spectators deserve to suffer in the hopes of nurturing disgust for capital punishment.

Either way, there are many ways executions could be made simple and painless, but there seems to be minimal interest in pursuing that.

My understanding is that the drug manufacturers won’t sell the drugs needed for lethal injections to the prisons. They don’t want their medication to be associated with death.

A statement from the American Society of Anesthesiologists:

The surprising thing (to me) is the weaselly statement “ASA strongly discourages participation by anesthesiologists in executions” after going into how lethal injection gives anaesthesiology a bad name. As opposed to a clear stance like “ASA will expel and blackball any anaesthesiologist found to participate in executions.”

IIRC, there was a bizarre Supreme Court decision about this about 40-some years ago. They decided that the condemned person must be awake and must experience his execution. They decided that it was “cruel and unusual punishment” otherwise.

There was no comprehensible logic to this decision. Go figure.

(Note that this seems inconsistent with the modern three-drug lethal injection protocol. I’m not sure if lethal injection was a thing at the time of this decision. It made no sense anyway.)

Or equivalently, get an anesthesiologist or doctor to perform the execution. There must surely be a few around who are willing to do the deed. They could be traveling executioneer/doctors, going from state to state for their occasional gigs.

Can you cite that? I’ve looked and I can’t find anything resembling that description.

Sorry, no. It was 40-some years ago, long before everything was on-line. There may be some archived copy around, but I can’t think of what the right search terms might be.

(ETA: All I can find about the Supreme Court and execution is more recent stuff that isn’t relevant to this point.)

There was a movie about one Albert Pierrepoint, who was a professional hangman who executed hundreds of people. To be constrasted with the U.S. Army who brought in a psycho who botched a bunch of executions.

Pretty much, every SCOTUS dec is available online.

And they could go to the impound office, grab that kilo of heroin and shoot the prisoner up, massive overdose, disposing of illegal drugs in one fell swoop, efficiency in action =)

Shucks, forget the heroin, go straight for the fentanyl. It seems to be tailor made for efficient executions.

Right, look how easy it is to OD fentanyl!

What the authorities could do is a valid topic for FQ. But this is veering towards discussion of what they should do, which is not a valid topic. Please stay factual.

Replying to the OP - a lot of drugs are not manufactured in the US, but in EU countries. The EU has placed a ban on selling drugs for the purpose of executions. That means that if the States start using regular anaesthesia as part of the execution, the EU may put an embargo on anaesthesia drugs being sold to the US generally, which potentially affects health care across the US, if there’s suddenly a shortage of anaesthesia.

Well, the formulas for making the various drugs are known, it isn’t rocket science to make them, we have the ability to build a small lab making the drugs - how about over at Ft Meade, or any other government installation with a decent chem lab. And don’t give me patent issues - people steal US patents all the freaking time.

Though as I said just draw the fentanyl or heroin from the evidence locker and have at it.