Is Lethal Injection Humane?

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Is Lethal Injection the most Humane form of Execution?

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Is Lethal Injection Humane?

Post  Jennie on Tue Jun 24, 2008 9:08 pm

Do you believe that Lethal Injection is the most Humane method of Execution that is currently available?

Below are some facts about the ways in which people have and are being executed!


Last edited by Jennie on Tue Jun 24, 2008 9:11 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Lethal Injection

Post  Jennie on Tue Jun 24, 2008 9:09 pm

Lethal Injection
The person who is condemned is fastened onto a gurney; two intravenous cannulae ("IVs") are inserted, one in each arm. Only one is necessary to carry out the execution; the other is reserved as a backup in the event the primary line fails. A line leading from the IV Line in an adjacent room is attached and secured to the prisoner's IV, and secured so the line doesn't snap during the injections.

The arm of the subject is swabbed with alcohol before the cannula is inserted.[9] The needles and equipment used are also sterilized. There have been questions about why these precautions against infection are performed despite the purpose of the injection being death. There are several explanations: cannulae are sterilized during manufacture, so using sterile ones is routine medical procedure. Secondly, there is a chance that the prisoner could receive a stay of execution after the cannulae have been inserted, as happened in the case of James Autry in October 1983 (he was eventually executed on March 14, 1984). Finally, it would be a hazard to prison personnel to use unsterilized equipment.

Following connection of the lines, saline drips are started in both arms. This too is standard medical procedure: it must be acertained that the connections are clear, ensuring that the chemicals don't mix in the IV lines and block up the needle, preventing the drugs from reaching the inmate and botching the execution. A heart monitor is attached so that prison officials can monitor when death has occurred.

The intravenous injection is usually a sequence of drugs given in a set sequence, designed to first induce unconsciousness followed by death through paralysis of respiratory muscles and/or by cardiac arrest through depolarization of cardiac muscle cells. The execution of the condemned in most states involves three separate injections (in sequential order):

Sodium thiopental: ultra-short action barbiturate, an anaesthesic agent capable of rendering the person unconscious in a few seconds.


Pancuronium: non-depolarizing muscle relaxant, causes complete, fast and sustained paralysis of the skeletal striated muscles, including the diaphragm and the rest of the respiratory muscles; this would eventually cause death by asphyxiation.


Potassium chloride: stops the heart, and thus causes death by cardiac arrest.


The drugs are not mixed externally as that can cause them to precipitate. Also, a sequential injection is key to achieve the desired effects in the appropriate order: administration of the barbiturate is essential to minimize physical distress during the process; the infusion of the muscle relaxant induces complete paralysis but not unconsciousness, and the injection of a highly-concentrated solution of potassium chloride can cause severe pain in the site of the IV Line as well as along the punctured arm.

The intravenous tubing leads to a room next to the execution chamber, usually separated from the subject by a curtain or wall. Typically a technician trained in venipuncture inserts the needle, while a second technician, who is usually a member of the prison staff, orders, prepares, and loads the drugs into the lethal injection syringes. Two other staff members take each of the three syringes and secures them into the IVs. After the curtain is opened to allow the witnesses to see inside the chamber, the condemned person is then permitted to make a final statement. Following this, the warden will signal that the execution may commence, and the executioner(s) (either prison staff or private citizens depending on the jurisdiction) will then manually inject the three drugs in sequence. During the execution, the subject's cardiac rhythm is monitored. Death is pronounced after cardiac activity stops. Death usually occurs within seven minutes, although the whole procedure can take up to 2 hours, as was the case with the execution of Christopher Newton on May 24, 2007. According to state law, if a physician's participation in the execution is prohibited for reasons of medical ethics, then the death ruling can be made by the state Medical Examiner's Office. After confirmation that death has occurred, a coroner signs the executed individual’s death certificate.


Last edited by Scouse on Wed Jun 25, 2008 11:06 am; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : Learn coding! ;op)
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Hanging

Post  Jennie on Tue Jun 24, 2008 9:38 pm

There are four ways of performing a judicial hanging — the short drop, suspension hanging, the standard drop, and the long drop. A mechanised form of hanging, the upright jerker, was also experimented with in the 19th century.


Short drop
The short drop is done by placing the condemned prisoner on the back of a cart, horse, or other vehicle, with the noose around the neck. The vehicle is then moved away, leaving the person dangling from the rope. The condemned prisoner dies of strangulation. Prior to 1850, it was the main method used. A ladder was also commonly used with the condemned being forced to ascend, after which the noose was tied and the ladder pulled away or turned, leaving the condemned hanging. A stool, which the condemned is required to stand on and is then kicked away, has also been used.



Suspension hanging
Suspension hanging is similar to the short drop, except the gallows themselves are movable, so that the noose can be raised once the condemned is in place. This method is currently used in Iran, where tank gun barrels or mobile cranes are used to hoist the condemned into the air. Similar methods involve running the rope through a pulley to allow the raising of the person.



Standard drop
The standard drop, which arrived as calculated in English units, involves a drop of between four and six feet (1.2 to 1.8 m) and came into use in the mid-19th century, in English-speaking countries and those where judicial systems were under English influence. It was considered an advance on the short drop because it was intended to be sufficient to break the person's neck, causing immediate paralysis and immobilization (and probable immediate unconsciousness). This method was used to execute condemned Nazis after the Nuremberg Trials.



Long drop
This process, also known as the measured drop, was introduced in 1872 by William Marwood as a scientific advancement to the standard drop. Instead of everyone falling the same standard distance, the person's weight was used to determine how much slack would be provided in the rope so that the distance dropped would be enough to ensure that the neck was broken.


Prior to 1892, the drop was between four and ten feet (about one to three meters), depending on the weight of the body, and was calculated to deliver a force of 1,260 lbf (5,600 newtons or 572 kgf), which fractured the neck at either the 2nd and 3rd or 4th and 5th cervical vertebrae. However, this force resulted in some decapitations, such as the famous case of "Black Jack" Tom Ketchum in New Mexico in 1901. Between 1892 and 1913, the length of the drop was shortened to avoid decapitation. After 1913, other factors were also taken into account, and the force delivered was reduced to about 1,000 lbf (4,400 N or 450 kgf). The decapitation of a female inmate during a botched hanging in 1930 led the state of Arizona to switch to the gas chamber as its primary execution method, on the grounds that it was believed more humane.[3] One of the more recent decapitations as a result of the long drop occurred when Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti was hanged in Iraq in 2007.
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Electrocution

Post  Jennie on Tue Jun 24, 2008 9:39 pm

The head and legs of the condemned person are shaved and the prisoner is strapped into the chair. A natural sponge, moistened with a saline solution, is placed on the head to aid conductivity. One electrode is attached to the head and a second attached to the leg to provide a closed circuit. At least two applications of an electrical current are applied with the time and current depending on the physical state of the condemned person. Typically an initial voltage of around 2,000 volts is applied for up to 15 seconds to attempt both to induce unconsciousness and to stop the heart. The voltage is then lowered to reduce current flow to approximately 8 amps. The body of the person may heat up to approximately 138 °F (59 °C), and the electric current will generally cause severe damage to internal organs.

There have been incidents of a person's head on fire; of burning transformers, and of a chair breaking down after the initial application and letting the condemned wait in pain on the floor of the execution room while the chair was fixed. In 1946, the electric chair failed to execute Willie Francis, who reportedly shrieked "Stop it! Let me breathe!" as he was being executed. It turned out that the portable electric chair had been improperly set up by an intoxicated trustee. A case was brought before the U.S. Supreme Court (Francis v. Resweber),[7] with lawyers for the condemned arguing that although Francis did not die, he had, in fact, been executed. The argument was rejected on the basis that re-execution did not violate the double jeopardy clause of the 5th Amendment of the US Constitution, and Francis was returned to the electric chair and successfully executed in 1947.

Skin is inevitably burned and prison workers have to separate the burnt skin from the electrodes. The initial flow of electric current may cause the person to lose control over many bodily functions, including muscle movement, urination and defecation. To mitigate this, alterations to modern electric chairs include padding and an inertia style retractable seat belt.
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Firing Squad

Post  Jennie on Tue Jun 24, 2008 9:42 pm

Execution by firing squad is a method of capital punishment, particularly common in times of war. The firing squad is generally composed of several soldiers or peace officers. The method of execution requires all members of the group to fire simultaneously, thus preventing both disruption of the process by a single member and identification of the member who fired the lethal shot. The condemned is typically blindfolded or hooded, as well as restrained - though in some cases condemned prisoners had asked to be allowed to face the firing squad with their eyes open. Executions can be carried out with the condemned either standing or sitting.

Execution by firing squad is distinct from other forms of execution by firearms, such as a single shot from a handgun to the back of the neck. However, the single shot (coup de grâce) is sometimes incorporated in a firing squad execution, particularly if the initial volley turns out not to be immediately fatal.

The method is also the supreme punishment or disciplinary means employed by courts martial for crimes such as cowardice, desertion or mutiny. One such execution was that of Private Eddie Slovik by the U.S. Army in 1945. Slovik was the only U.S. soldier executed for desertion since the American Civil War. It has also been applied for violent crimes carried out by soldiers, such as murder or rape. Also notably, Jean-Marie Bastien-Thiry was executed by firing squad for his participation in the assassination attempt on President Charles de Gaulle.

Firing squads have also been used for political crimes. Romanian Communist leader Nicolae Ceauşescu (25 December 1989) is an example of this.

There is a tradition in some jurisdictions that such executions are carried out at first light, or (more dramatically) at sunrise (which is usually up to half an hour later). This gives rise to the phrase 'shot at dawn'. This phrase has become particularly associated with the campaign (see below) to achieve a pardon for British servicemen shot for apparent cowardice in World War 1.

Blank cartridge
In some cases, one member of the firing squad may be issued a weapon containing a blank cartridge instead of one with a bullet, without telling any of them to whom it has been given. This is believed to reduce flinching by individual members of the firing squad, making the execution process more reliable. It also allows each member of the firing squad a chance to believe afterward that he did not personally fire a fatal shot. This reinforces the sense of diffusion of responsibility. While an experienced marksman can tell the difference between a blank and a live cartridge based on the recoil (the blank will have much lower recoil), there is a significant psychological incentive not to pay attention and, over time, to remember the recoil as soft.[citation needed]

On occasion, in spite of the blank cartridge, firing squads have been reported to have chosen to miss the victim entirely, leaving it to the officer in charge to draw his sidearm and deliver the coup de grace with a single shot to the head of a prisoner who is to that point quite unharmed.


Firing squads in the United States
Main article: Capital punishment in the United States
According to Executions in the U.S. 1608-1987 by M. Watt Espy and John Ortiz Smylka, it is estimated that 142 men have been judicially shot in the United States and English-speaking predecessor territories since 1608, excluding executions related to the American Civil War. The Civil War saw several hundred firing squad deaths, but reliable numbers are not available. Crimes punishable by firing squad in the Civil War included desertion, intentionally killing a superior officer or fellow soldier, and being a spy.


Capital punishment was suspended in the United States between 1967 and 1976 as a result of several decisions of the United States Supreme Court. The process resumed with the execution of Gary Gilmore on January 17, 1977, at Utah State Prison in Draper. The five executioners were equipped with .30-30 caliber rifles and off-the-shelf Winchester 150 grain (9.7 g) SilverTip ammunition. The subject was restrained and hooded. The shots were fired at a distance of 20 feet (6 m), aiming at the chest. In his autobiography Shot in the Heart, Mikal Gilmore wrote that when he examined the shirt worn by his brother Gary during the execution, he found five bullet holes, indicating that all members of the squad had been armed with live cartridges and none with a blank round.

The only other post-Furman execution by firing squad, that of John Albert Taylor in 1996, also took place in Utah. Taylor is said to have chosen the firing squad because it would be awkward for state officials.

In Utah, the firing squad consisted of five volunteer police officers from the county in which the conviction of the offender took place. A law passed on March 15, 2004 banned execution by firing squad in Utah, but since that specific law was not retroactive, four inmates on Utah's death row could still have their last requests granted. As of 2006, Idaho and Oklahoma are the only other states in which execution by firing squad is legally available (as backup methods only; both states use lethal injection as their primary methods of execution).
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Decapitation

Post  Jennie on Tue Jun 24, 2008 9:43 pm

Decapitation (from Latin, caput, capitis, meaning head), or beheading, is the cutting off of the head of a man or animal. Beheading typically refers to the act of intentional decapitation, e.g., as a means of murder or execution; it may be accomplished, for example, with an axe, sword, any kind of wire, or knife, or by means of a guillotine. Accidental decapitation can be the result of an explosion, automobile or industrial accident, improperly-administered execution by hanging or other violent injury. Suicide by decapitation is rare, but not unknown. An executioner carrying out decapitations is called a headsman.

The word decapitation can also refer, on occasion, to the removal of the head from a body that is already dead. This might be done to take the head as a trophy, for public display, to make the deceased more difficult to identify, or for other reasons.

In an analogous fashion, decapitation can also refer to the removal of a head of an organization. If, for example, the leader of a country were killed, that might be referred to as 'decapitation'. It is also used of a political strategy aimed at unseating high-profile members of a party, as used by the Liberal Democrats in the United Kingdom general election, 2005.[1]

Decapitation is fatal, as brain death occurs within seconds to minutes without the support of the organism's body.
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Gas Chamber

Post  Jennie on Tue Jun 24, 2008 9:47 pm

A gas chamber is an apparatus for killing, consisting of a sealed chamber into which a poisonous or asphyxiant gas is introduced. The most commonly used poisonous agent is hydrogen cyanide; carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide have also been used. Gas chambers were used as a method of execution for condemned prisoners in the United States beginning in the 1920s. During the Holocaust, large-scale gas chambers designed for mass killing were used by Nazi Germany as part of their genocide program.[1] The use of gas chambers has also been reported in North Korea. Gas chambers have also been used for animal euthanasia, using carbon dioxide as the lethal agent. Sometimes a box filled with anaesthetic gas is used to anaesthetize small animals for surgery or euthanasia.

When executions by gas chambers are conducted in the United States, the general protocol is as follows. First, the executioner will place a quantity of potassium cyanide (KCN) pellets into a compartment directly below the chair in the chamber. The condemned person is then brought into the chamber and strapped into the chair, and the airtight chamber is sealed. At this point the executioner will pour a quantity of concentrated sulfuric acid (H2SO4) down a tube that leads to a small holding tank directly below the compartment containing the cyanide pellets. The curtain is then opened, allowing the witnesses to observe the inside of the chamber. The prison warden will then ask the condemned individual if he or she wishes to make a final statement. Following this, the executioner(s) will throw a switch/lever to cause the cyanide pellets to drop into the sulfuric acid, initiating a chemical reaction that generates hydrogen cyanide (HCN) gas:

2KCN (s) + H2SO4 (aq) → 2HCN (g) + K2SO4 The gas is visible to the condemned, and he/she is advised to take several deep breaths to speed unconsciousness in order to prevent unnecessary suffering. Most prisoners, however, try to hold their breath.[2] Death from hydrogen cyanide is usually painful and unpleasant. The chamber is then purged of the gas through special scrubbers, and must be neutralized with anhydrous ammonia (NH3) before it can be opened. Guards wearing oxygen masks remove the body from the chamber. Finally, the prison doctor examines the individual in order to officially declare that he or she is dead and release the body to the next of kin.

One of the problems with the gas chamber is the inherent danger of dealing with such a toxic gas. Anhydrous ammonia is used to cleanse the chamber after cyanide gas has been used:

HCN + NH3 → NH4+ + CN-. The anhydrous ammonia used to clean the chamber afterwards, and the contaminated acid that must be drained and disposed of, are both very poisonous.

Nitrogen gas or oxygen-depleted air has been considered for human execution, as it can induce Nitrogen asphyxiation. It has not been used to date.[3]
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Stoning

Post  Jennie on Tue Jun 24, 2008 10:10 pm

Stoning, or lapidation, refers to a form of capital punishment whereby an organized group throws stones at the convicted individual until the person dies.

Stoning has been used throughout history in a number of places, both in the form of community justice and also as a judicial form of capital punishment. The practice is referred to in Greek history, as well as Christian, Jewish, and Islamic texts.
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