MO: BILL REIBOLDT: Where we stand with capital punishment
Tue Jun 19, 2012 15:28
BILL REIBOLDT: Where we stand with capital punishment By Staff Reports Neosho Daily News Posted Jun 18, 2012
Neosho, Mo. — A topic of interest in the state deals with the subject of capital punishment.
The opponents of capital punishment make the argument that executing a prisoner is more expensive than having him or her spend life in prison. The fact that there is now a shortage of one of the drugs used in Missouri’s lethal injection protocol helps set the stage to re-address the issue of pro-execution vs. life in prison.
One of the most difficult and thought-provoking decisions that must be made by state government officials is the enacting of a death sentence and the method used to carry out that sentence. Previously in Missouri, death sentences were carried out by use of a cyanide gas chamber at the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City.
Though this penitentiary is no longer in use, the aged structure, as well as the gas chamber used to execute 38 convicted felons, is still standing and open for public viewing. Today, lethal injection is the process used in executions.
Currently, 33 states use capital punishment, and all 33 use some form of the lethal injection method. Seventeen of our nation’s states have forgone all forms of capital punishment. In Missouri, the last execution was Martin Link, who was put to death in February of 2011 for abducting and murdering an 11-year-old St. Louis girl as she walked to her school bus stop. The next execution scheduled is for Michael Andrew Tisius on Aug. 3 of this year. Tisius killed two officers while trying to break out a friend from jail. Besides Tisius, there are 47 other Missourians who have exhausted all their legal appeals and are condemned to die by lethal injection.
While lethal injection is the exclusive method of execution in Missouri today, as previously mentioned, the Department of Corrections is experiencing difficulty in obtaining one of the drugs necessary to carry out the execution procedure. Missouri uses a mixture of three different drugs to achieve death: sodium thiopental, pancuronium bromide, and potassium chloride. The problem being encountered is that the state supply of sodium thiopental has expired and the domestic manufacturer, Hospira, Inc. of Lake Forest, Ill., the nation’s only manufacturer of the drug, stopped producing it in 2010. For a few months, the company was able to import the drug from its overseas manufacturer in Italy, but now Hospira is unable to continue to purchase it because it is being used in the U.S. for capital punishment, which Italy opposes. Hospira fears that the Italian authorities will hold their American company liable in Italy if it continues to sell this product for use in execution procedures. Sodium thiopental is a barbiturate used as a general anesthetic in many parts of the world, but American courts have upheld its use in capital punishment.
Several states use a one-drug protocol — pentobarbital — for execution. This is the same drug used by U.S. veterinarians to euthanize animals and is one of the drugs used today in the state of Oregon for assisted suicide (which is legal in that state). Several other states have substituted pentobarbital for sodium thiopental in their lethal injection mixture, a mixture that has been upheld by our courts for use in the U.S. However, the Danish firm that distributes pentobarbital has objected to its use in capital punishment cases, though not to its use in assisted suicide.
Dave Dormire, from the Missouri Department of Corrections, states: “The Department has adopted a new one-drug execution protocol, using propofol (also known as Diprovan), which will be administered intravenously. The one-drug protocol replaces the state’s previous three-drug protocol. This change became necessary due to the unavailability of sodium thiopental, one of the three drugs used under the previous protocol.”
On May 17, 2012, the Missouri Attorney General requested execution dates for 19 men being held on death row at the Potosi Correctional Center. These men were told that the state could use a new one-drug protocol for the procedure. The new protocol calls for the injection of propofol, the drug that ultimately took Michael Jackson’s life. Propofol (Diprovan) is used as an anesthetic and has been known to cause pain when injected intravenously, as is the method for state execution procedures. No other state or country has ever used this drug for executions, and there are no known studies of its use in the portions necessary to achieve death in an execution. Under the U.S. Constitution, it is necessary to preserve and protect these condemned inmates’ Eighth Amendment rights, which deal with cruel and unusual punishment.
Only two men have been executed in Missouri since 2005. Some are saying that now might be the time to join the other 17 states in ending all capital punishment in our state.
If I can be of assistance on state matters, please do not hesitate to call my office. Contact information is as follows.
Mail: Bill Reiboldt, Office 235-BB, State Capitol, 201 W. Capitol, Jefferson City, MO 65101. Telephone: (573) 751-9781. Personal cell phone: 417-456-0441. Email: email@example.com
Bill Reiboldt represents the people of Newton and McDonald Counties in the Missouri House.
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MO: BILL REIBOLDT: Where we stand with capital punishment Petra.,Tue Jun 19 15:28