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No more cocktails, just give it to me straight: death in Ohio

Such is the perverted ingenuity of the human race, that yes, we’re great at finding more and more ways of killing each other. Take the case of Kenneth Biros, a man convicted of murder in the US state of Ohio.

Because of an horrendously botched execution in Ohio in September (subject of earlier posts: here and here) the ever-resourceful Ohio executioners have come up with a new form of lethal injection. Instead of the usual “cocktail” of three different chemicals, they’re going for a big hit of one – thiopental sodium, an anaesthetic.

Ten times the normal dose of something normally used to help preserve life – and bingo, you‘re dead. Except, maybe not.

Ohio is mixing it up over lethal injections because it made such a mess over finding a useable vein to inject to death Rommel Broom. How, I wonder, is using a different drug going to make that particular problem any easier?

Then again, those who say they’re keen to solve the “problem” of inducing a “quick and painless” death have never been all that scrupulous. Remember the longstanding concerns that old-style lethal injections can malfunction, leaving prisoners horrifically trapped in a “chemical straitjacket”? (If not, check out where I’ve blogged on this particular horror before).

Here, though, you’ve got the Ohio state authorities saying don’t worry, we’ve got a back-up method if we can’t get the thiopental sodium into a vein. We’ll just jab two other chemicals into a muscle somewhere.  Never mind the pain, delay, suffering and sheer disgustingness of it all. (When the execution staff tried the muscle route with Broom it went horribly wrong, but hey, they’re ready to try again on Biros).

As Brian Evans points out, this is nothing more than a lethal experiment. It’s the sort of thing you’d expect (if not condone) at a lab where they conduct experiments on animals, not in a modern prison. Legal Pub notes concerns that Biros’s intended death via thiopental sodium could be lengthier than the (already accident-prone and sometimes prolonged) three-chemical method. Some progress.

Some people will say – so what? People like Biros don’t care how long their victims suffered, why should we care about him? Well, that’s the nub, isn’t it? As we’ve said on this blog over the (imaginary) execution of Gary Glitter and (the very real) case of Troy Davis, you either support killing people in the name of justice … or, basically, you don’t. 

Dressing up capital punishment as “humane” is just insulting our intelligence. Please send an appeal for Biros’ execution to be called off here.  And meanwhile, I think I’ll pass on the cocktails and straight shots today. Make mine a glass of water.

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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