What do you do if you're a state executioner facing a shortage of drugs for lethal injections? You improvise. That's what Oklahoma is trying to do, by using pentobarbital — the same drug used to euthanize animals — on humans.
When most states ran out of sodium thiopental, the main drug used in state executions, corrections officials in Oklahoma amended their protocol to allow the use of pentobarbital, which has never been tested on humans: "We do not believe it would be cruel and unusual punishment," Oklahoma Department of Corrections spokesman Jerry Massie told NPR. Experts, and rational human beings, disagree. "The state is basically experimenting on the execution of a human being using a drug that's never been used before, and this is really a first," says law professor Deborah Denno.
Convicted murderer John David Duty is set to be executed on December 16, and will essentially serve as a guinea pig for the state so it doesn't have to wait for more sodium thiopental to be produced early next year. His case is now before a federal court, with defense attorneys citing the Eighth Amendment — the right against cruel and unusual punishment.
Arguments against the death penalty aside, what's the fucking hurry? Oklahoma can't wait a few more months for the one company that makes sodium thiopental, Hospira, to produce more, instead of experimenting on a person?
[Image via AP]