Friday, June 23, 2006

The aesthetics of execution

This is stone simple. Why did the this NYT journalist have such trouble getting to the point?
Doctors See Way to Cut Suffering in Executions - New York Times:

... because drugs like Pavulon can mask suffering, many states outlaw them for animal euthanasia.

Execution by barbiturate alone would take longer than the current method, Dr. Dershwitz said. Although prisoners would quickly lose consciousness and stop breathing, they could not be pronounced dead until electrical activity in the heart had stopped. That could take as long as 45 minutes.
Pavulon is a famously effective paralytic agent. It doesn't reduce pain or diminish consciousness, it simply makes movement impossible. It's used in executions to make the experience less unpleasant for witnesses.

Depending on who the witnesses are, the victim may care more or less about their discomfort. One approach would be to give the condemned a menu of options, from explosive attached to the skull to pure barbiturate to a mix of drugs. With informed consent, of course.

Or we could decide that this is really a very stupid business. As I've noted before, if we're going to execute people we need, at an absolute minimum, to assign lawyers randomly to rich and poor alike.

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