Two More Executions Stayed Unnecessarily
Simple Alternative to Lethal Injections For Executions Would Correct
But these and other previously-successful challenges to the use of lethal injections would vanish if Oklahoma adopted a simple and proven alternative which causes a completely pain-free death and does not require special training fr those administering it, another concern in these two cases, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf.
The simple solution, he argues, and an alternative to using injectable drugs for executions generally - with the many legal and other challenges this method has faced, and will continue to face - is putting the condemned on the pill.
Since most of the concerns about using drugs for capital punishment involve problems - including possible pain from the rapid dispersal of one or more injected drugs, the "botched" injection of drugs, etc. - with drugs which are injected, an obvious alternative for meeting such legal problems would be to simply use readily available pills, rather than injections, to administer drugs such as barbiturates whose lethal properties are well controlled, well known, and very clearly established, and which cause "death with dignity" without pain as users simply fall into a deep sleep from which they never awake.
"Providing a condemned man with barbiturate pills to cause a quick and painless death - as in "death with dignity" jurisdictions - is well tested, established, and accepted, does not require any trained personnel, and could avoid the many medical, legal, and other problems with lethal injections, including unexpected adverse reactions and possible pain," suggests Professor Banzhaf, who takes no position on the fundamental issue of capital punishment.
In at least eight states (California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington) and in the District of Columbia, physicians are permitted to prescribe barbiturate pills so that terminally ill (and often old and frail) patients can achieve death with dignity without any pain or other suffering.
If state and federal governments doesn't take advantage of this simple and proven protocol to cause death without pain, they can only expect further challenged by death penalty opponents who can probably then show, according to the existing legal standard, that the current execution protocol creates substantial risks of harm relative to a viable alternative;