No Drugs, So Oklahoma to Suffocate Death Row Inmates; But There’s a Simple and Tested Alternative to Provide Quick Painless Death
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Wednesday 14, 2018): After a three-year hiatus caused by the lack of drugs for lethal injections, Oklahoma is planning to asphyxiate its death row inmates beginning in 2019.
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But there's a simple and tested alternative which avoids all of the complications and problems with lethal injections - including 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 public interest law professor John 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, or other methods of execution now in use in several states, including the electric chair, firing squad, gas chamber, and now even asphyxiation/suffocation.
"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 lethal injections, as well as restrictions on injectable drugs imposed by many manufacturers because of ethical and moral concerns," suggests Banzhaf.