This Is What Your Government Doesn’t Want You To See.This is how more than 1250 people have been executed in the USA since 1977.
In America 31 states retain the death penalty and Arkansas is one of them. In 2017 the state executed four men ahead of the expiry of a batch of lethal injection drugs. Now, with another batch due to expire, inmates on death row fear another ‘mass execution’.
The lethal injection is made up of three different chemicals, and this animation explains how they combine to deliver a fatal dose. But are critics right? Does this type of lethal injection mean convicts could have a slow and painful death?
Lethal injection, method of executing condemned prisoners through the administration of one or more chemicals that induce death.
Lethal injection—now the most widely used method of execution in the United States—was first adopted by the U.S. state of Oklahoma in 1977, because it was considered cheaper and more humane than either electrocution or lethal gas.
Texas was the first state to administer lethal injection, executing Charles Brooks, Jr., on December 2, 1982. By the early 21st century, lethal injection was the sole method of execution in most U.S. states where capital punishment was legal, and it was an option for prisoners in all states.
The method is also used by the U.S. federal government and the U.S. military. From 1976 (when the U.S. Supreme Court ended its moratorium on the death penalty) to the second decade of the 21st century, lethal injection was administered in some 1,100 executions.
During a lethal-injection procedure, a prisoner is strapped to a gurney, a padded stretcher normally used for transporting hospital patients. Until late in the first decade of the 21st century, the typical lethal injection consisted of three chemicals injected into a viable part of the prisoner’s body (usually an arm) in the following order:
(1) sodium thiopental, a barbiturate anesthetic, which is supposed to induce deep unconsciousness in about 20 seconds,
(2) pancuronium bromide, a total muscle relaxant that, given in sufficient dosages, paralyzes all voluntary muscles, thereby causing suffocation,
(3) potassium chloride, which induces irreversible cardiac arrest. If all goes as planned, the entire execution takes about five minutes, with death usually occurring less than two minutes after the final injection. However, botched lethal injections have sometimes required more than two hours to achieve death.
In 2009 the attempted execution of Romell Broom in Ohio was halted before any drugs had been injected; after continual probing with hypodermic needles, executioners were unable to find a usable vein. It was the first lethal injection—and only the second execution—in the United States to have been halted in progress.
Substantial evidence suggests that botched lethal injections can inflict on the prisoner unnecessary pain and indignity, and media-witnessed injections have shown a significant pattern of mishaps—particularly in Texas, where lethal injection has been administered most frequently.
For example, prisoners can suffer if they do not have suitable veins or if they receive an inadequate dosage of sodium thiopental (in which case they might regain consciousness and sensation while being injected with the two other chemicals). In such a scenario (or through a mix-up of the drug sequence), a prisoner might feel excruciating pain but not be able to show it because he is paralyzed by the pancuronium bromide.
A study of state lethal-injection protocols showed that such failures can be linked to vague lethal-injection statutes, uninformed prison personnel and executioners (who typically are not medically trained, because doctors are normally precluded from participating in executions), and skeletal or inaccurate directions that reveal errors and ignorance about the procedure.