Condemned Murderers Now More Likely to Die of Natural Causes Than by Execution
WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 18, 2018): Murderer Doyle Hamm escaped execution because of problems starting an intravenous line, Alva Campbell’s execution was called off when prison personnel could not find a suitable vein, and Danny Bible, “the ice pick killer,” is now asking to have his execution put off for the same reason.
This new strategy to avoid the death penalty comes when, according to Reuters, last year more murderers condemned to death died of natural causes than were executed, notes public interest law professor John Banzhaf, who says there's a simple answer to this "weak vein" argument.
Fortunately there's a simple and tested alternative which avoids all of the complications and problems with lethal injections - including vein placement and the scarcity resulting from public pressure on drug companies - and which would permit condemned prisoners to have the same "death with dignity" already granted the elderly in six states, says Banzhaf.
Banzhaf, noting the growing number of "botched" lethal-injection executions, and the scarcity - even before a major judicial ruling - of injectable execution drugs, first proposed using proven quick-acting barbiturate pills, such as those used for "death with dignity," for executions in 2009.
In six states - California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington - physicians are permitted to prescribe pills so that terminal patients can have death with dignity, and the pills for this purpose are readily available. In Oregon, at least 990 patients have used these drugs since the law took effect in 1997. In Washington state, at least 915 have died under terms of the law enacted in 2009.
Banzhaf argues that if the state can legally authorize the use of barbiturate pills so that residents can have death with dignity, it should be able to authorize the use of exactly the same pills if prisoners wish to avoid the many risks involved with injectable drugs including vein placement, or other methods now in use in several states, including the electric chair, firing squad, gas chamber, and now even asphyxiation.
"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 medical personnel, and could avoid the many medical problems with injections, as well as restrictions on injectable drugs imposed by many manufacturers because of ethical and moral concerns," suggests Banzhaf.