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ACLU Says Nebraska May Have Illegally Imported Execution Drugs

The ACLU asks the DEA to investigate whether the state lied on its applications to get fentanyl for upcoming executions.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts // CHINE NOUVELLE/SIPA/NewscomNebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts // CHINE NOUVELLE/SIPA/NewscomThe American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) today accused the Nebraska state prison system of violating federal drug laws to obtain lethal injection drugs to use in upcoming executions.

The Nebraska branch of the ACLU says the Nebraska State Penitentiary may have illegally imported and stored fentanyl that it intends to use to execute two inmates. In a letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), released today, the group asks the agency to investigate the alleged misdeeds—and to immediately suspend the DEA registrations allowing Nebraska to carry out the executions.

The letter says the penitentiary may have repeatedly misled federal authorities by importing and storing fentanyl under DEA registrations issued to an inmate clinic located at the same prison as the state's death row. The registrations allow medical practitioners at the clinic to administer controlled substances to inmates.

"Prisoners who are to be executed by lethal injection are not being diagnosed or treated, nor are they being provided any other form of medical care," ACLU of Nebraska Legal Director Amy Miller wrote in the letter.

The civil rights group also argues that Nebraska may have violated federal law by importing fentanyl from overseas without a proper DEA license. Fentanyl is a Schedule 2 narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act, and the penitentiary's license only allows it to import Schedule 3 and 4 drugs, the ACLU says.

Nebraska is attempting to resume capital punishment in the state after a 21-year hiatus, but it has struggled to obtain execution drugs, a problem facing almost every state that still practices the death penalty.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts told reporters at a press conference this morning that the ACLU "is fabricating charges in a desperate attempt to foil the will of the people of Nebraska." A Nebraska Department of Corrections spokesperson claimed to the Omaha World-Herald that the department legally obtained the drugs and that the ACLU's letter "contains inflammatory language clearly intended to discredit the department."

With the state facing scrutiny from media and advocacy organizations, the state government began an aggressive campaign to keep details about its death penalty protocols secret. In January the legislature passed new laws tightening what information could be released.

The World-Herald and several other media organizations are currently suing the state for refusing to disclose the source of its execution drugs, information that it used to provide to news outlets.

If the allegations made by the ACLU are true, it would not be the first time that Nebraska has skirted the law while trying to get execution drugs.

A 2015 BuzzFeed investigation revealed that Nebraska, along with at least three other states, paid Harris Pharma, a mysterious company in India run by a man with no pharmaceutical background, to ship sodium thiopental to them, despite a Food and Drug Administration ban on importing the drug.

Nebraska ordered $54,000 worth of the stuff from Harris—enough to perform 300 executions—but the feds intercepted the shipment, leaving Nebraska taxpayers on the hook for the bill.

The DEA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Photo Credit: Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts

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  • Eidde||

    Why dick around with execution drugs when there's still hanging and firing squads?

  • Eidde||

    Oh, yeah, you need a license to use hemp, heh heh.

  • croaker||

    But not guns. Bring back the firing squad.

  • croaker||

    But not guns. Bring back the firing squad.

  • croaker||

    Damn squirrels.

  • croaker||

    Woodchippers might be an 8th amendment violation.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Only if feet first.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Oh, Trepanazine wasn't covered?

  • EscherEnigma||

    As far as I can tell, because it's not pretty. In a quick search, reading two articles and the wiki page, there's lots of talk about it being legislatively banned, but no mentions of it being ruled "Cruel and Unusual" in court or any other sort of legal attack that explains it's lack of popularity.

    As recently as 2017, at least one SCOTUS Justice (Sotomayer) spoke favorably in court of the firing squad, and I found reference to one firing squad execution back in 2010 (Utah). It's also still a legal method in multiple states.

    So yeah, it's not popular, but it appears to just be that: a popularity thing, not a constitutional thing or a matter of federal law. Which leads me to: it doesn't leave a pretty corpse.

  • Eidde||

    One explanation I remember is that firing squads shatter the heart so the medical schools can't use it.

  • Eidde||

    I guess I should say shred not shatter.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    More of a POP!

  • Johnimo||

    What type of rifles and ammo do they use when executions are by firing squad? Is it a "pop" or a "bang" or something much louder? Do they give the person to be executed ear plugs? LOL Can one choose to be executed by someone dressed up as his favorite childhood western character ... like Hopalong Cassidy or The Lone Ranger? That'd be fun, huh?

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    I'm not sure you're grasping the point of execution here, Johnimo.

  • Agammamon||

    Ear plugs, safety glasses, and steel toed shoes are mandatory. As are no long sleeves or jewelry and if you have a ring you can't remove then you must wear gloves.

    Just because the process is supposed to end in a corpse doesn't mean that the process can't be *safe*.

  • EscherEnigma||

    That has the sound of an excuse, not a reason. I mean face it, there just aren't that many executions, even in Texas and Florida. So while some med schools may take the occasional executed inmate, there just aren't enough of 'em to be a big part of their cadavers.

  • Rod Flash||

    Since felony prisoners can't donate organs to living recipients, would they be able to donate cadavers to med schools? Is it just fear of some organ recipient becoming a serial killer due to the influence of a evil liver, or are the entire bodies of prisoners considered taboo?

  • Johnimo||

    This is so much fun! Who'd a thunk there were so many unanswered questions.

  • Agammamon||

    not like you're using any of the parts of a corpse created using an overdose of opiates and other chemicals anyway.

  • Ornithorhynchus||

    I've long felt that if you're going to have a death penalty, that the person responsible for the sentence should be the one to actually carry it out. Don't ask for someone to be killed if you're not willing to do the deed yourself.

    And since death penalties are decided by juries in this country, then the execution method needs to be something that the whole jury can do together.

    So firing squad is really the only feasible option.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Or make comically large needles that require 12 people to push the plunger.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Or 12 comically small ones.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Nah. Make the prosecutor do it.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    -1 Night's Watch deserter

  • Johnimo||

    Why not bows and arrows? All the jurors could spend several minutes making a pincushion out of the criminal target, huh? Or, ... alternatively.... they could all use those really powerful slingshots that shoot a big, metal ball. That would be really "smashing." They could use poison blow darts .... oooh!

  • EscherEnigma||

    Nah. Then folks would know whether or not they were the one that killed the prisoner.

    You should look into the elaborate charades executions involve so that executioners don't know whether or not they killed the prisoner. Wax bullets, dummy injections, it's very elaborate.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    " but no mentions of it being ruled "Cruel and Unusual" in court or any other sort of legal attack"

    That's mostly because the firing squad had largely fallen out of favor already long before death penalty opponents started making constitutional attacks on individual execution methods rather than challenging the death penalty more generally.

  • DiegoF||

    Indeed, gunshot has never been a common method of judicial civilian execution anywhere.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    And the gas chamber and the electric chair.

    All perfectly Constitutional methods of execution.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    Those are so last century, go for a vacuum chamber.

  • ||

    Actually, no, the latest medical evidence shows that the gas chamber and the electric chair are excruciatingly painful methods of execution.

    Hanging, less so if it is performed properly. Problem is that it takes a lot of skill to get it right. Too short a drop and you get slow painful death by strangulation. To long, and you end up beheading the prisoner and while that is not that painful to him, it is considered to gruesome for the witnesses.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Seriously, fuck the witnesses. I wish I could say I'm sorry that watching a person die is unpleasant for them, but harden the fuck up.

  • ||

    You have to remember that many of the witnesses are are members of the victim's family, most of whom want "closure" for what they consider is the wrong that has befallen them. They don't (for the most part) want to see something that upsets them even more.

  • ||

    They might want revenge but they want it clean and sanitized. Otherwise, they'd kill the bastard themselves.

  • SIV||

    If the state didn't have a monopoly on retributive violence they could.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Then don't go. A man is being killed, deal with the consequences of that.

  • ||

    Easy for you to say. Have you ever had a family member murdered and had the prosecution subject you to endless lectures about how much you need "closure".

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    No, but we're talking about committing an act of murder. And the argument is that it's not pleasant enough for the people going to watch it. If the law was forcing them to go, I would say the law was the wrong. But it seems people go of their own volition.

    If we're taking a persons life, to kill a man in cold-blood, and you go to watch that then you should be ready to deal with the gravity of it. When you are dealing with death you can't try to cover up what it is. It is perhaps the most serious action the government can take, and all the attempts to rationalize it is cowardice. Deal with what is happening or don't go watch a man DIE.

    If it wasn't clear, a person is DYING and the thing you're trying to come up with complex was to hide that fact.

  • DiegoF||

    It is homicide--that's what the death certificate says--and a deliberate, premeditated one, but not murder. (At least, without begging the question that it is indeed unjust; battlefield killings, for example, fulfill those conditions but are not usually called "murder" on the conventional use of the term.)

    Nonetheless I agree with you. As many of us discussed in a recent capital punshiment drug H & R, the use of nitrogen would be exceedingly humane, reliable, cheap, available, and safe for observers. It would also, as it happens, be "non-gruesome," but there is no particular moral reason that that should be a factor. In particular, they should probably cut the paralytic out of the present three-drug cocktail if for some reason they elect against switching to one-drug, CO, or nitrogen. The possibility that they would underdose the anesthetic (wouldn't want that to kill them, would we!) and the condemned would be unable to cry out in pain is too much to trade for the witnesses not having to see convulsions in a properly anesthetized condemned, IMO.

  • Agammamon||

    Murder is illegal homicide. Which is why soldiers can get a pass.

  • ||

    I agree with this. Thus, I am opposed to the death penalty.

    I was merely trying to explain why we, as a society, try to avoid the unpleasant reality of what we do when we commit judicial murder.

  • ||

    My response @ 10:25PM was intended for BestUsedCarSales|3.12.18 @ 8:58PM

  • DiegoF||

    Oh yeah? Well I ain't talking to you neither. So poo.

  • ||

    :)

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    "Actually, no, the latest medical evidence shows that the gas chamber and the electric chair are excruciatingly painful methods of execution."

    How is that in any way a counter to my comment? I wasn't supporting either the gas chamber or the electric chair, I suggested a vacuum chamber.

  • ||

    Sorry, my response was intended for Gilbert Martin|3.12.18 @ 5:35PM|#

    I'm not sure how exactly it happened that it was placed like that.

    You are quite correct. My comment makes no sense as a response to yours.

  • Cyto||

    Vacuum chamber would be worse.

    Better would be a gas chamber, but instead of flooding it with cyanide, just flood it with an inert gas like nitrogen. Give the prisoner a few Xanax and then flood the chamber. Because CO2 buildup is what causes the sensation of suffocation, the use of an oxygen-free inert gas just leads to unconsciousness rather rapidly without additional effects. Death would follow in minutes.

    It kinda solves all of the problems. You don't even need a hood to hide their reaction to the poison gas.

    Of course, that's just the aesthetic and "pain" problems. It doesn't do anything for the moral problem of killing another human being.

  • Phos||

    It wouldn't need to be a complete vacuum. Just low enough an oxygen concentration.

  • SRVolunteer||

    The hanging/decapitation issue would be pretty easy to solve with a body harness that allowed the body to fall the appropriate number of inches further than the noose allows the head to fall.

  • Agammamon||

    Why not an inert gas chamber - have the dude pre-breath pure oxygen and then send him into a room filled with nitrogen. With no CO2 in his bloodstream (thanks to the pre-breathing) he won't even feel uncomfortable when he passes out.

  • Cyto||

    Do you even need to pre-breath O2? The inert gas should carry CO2 away just as effectively as regular air.

  • Michael S. Langston||

    How about a specifically designed table where a blade pushed via air pressure, is designed to cut the brain stem without decapitation/large holes/etc?

    I think this is similar to how they kill cows (without the table), though not positive, just a random thought :)

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    See? Prohibiting legal alternatives does force people to use black market fentanyl.

  • ||

    So, Fentanyl tariffs to bring good fentanyl manufacturing jobs back to American shores?

  • Rich||

    it has struggled to obtain execution drugs, a problem facing almost every state that still practices the death penalty.

    With all due respect, what do Nebraska veterinarians use to euthanize horses and cattle?

  • EscherEnigma||

    Bullets?

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    -ominous metallic clicking and clacking-

  • Eidde||

    They don't euthanize horses and cattle, they send to a special farm where...OMG my parents lied to me!

  • Eidde||

    I'd make a joke about a popular fast-food chain, but I don't want to get subpoenaed.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Wait... are you saying McDonalds uses... cow meat in their burgers?

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    Technically, the majority of beef used for human consumption is bull (or more specifically steer) rather than cow. Steers (neutered bulls) put on mass faster.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    I wouldn't know. I'm more of an "anything that moos" kind of guy.

  • ||

    IIANM, a lot of hamburger comes from past their prime dairy cows. Any one with actual knowledge is welcome to correct me if I am wrong.

  • Agammamon||

    You are wrong.

    There simply aren't enough dairy cows to fill that demand. Cattle used for beef are raised for that and that alone.

  • Mezzanine||

    I'd rather eat Soylent Green than whatever mush McDonalds claims is beef.

  • SIV||

    It's more beef than those frozen patties they sell in the supermarkets.

  • Mezzanine||

    The issue is usually that the companies that produce the drugs don't like them being used for state sanctioned murder and won't provide them without a guarantee that they won't be used for executions. Euthanizing horses they don't care so much about.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    I'm sure if some state tried that route, the death penalty opponents would challenge the execution on the basis of the state using veterinary grade rather than human grade drugs.

  • Agammamon||

    The state made that distinction something they can lock people in a cage over - the least the state could do is work with it.

  • Rod Flash||

    I wanna be your sledge hammer...

  • AlmightyJB||

    So does this mean that the whole state of Nebraska gets the death penalty?

  • EscherEnigma||

    I wanted to make a joke about them just getting life in prison because they're in Nebraska, but I realized I can't think of a single notable thing about the state.

    And having just looked it up, the recent news articles are mostly either sports stuff or this death row bit, the population is about 1.6 million, the biggest city around four hundred thousand, they have a median household income of about $60k...

    Yeah, I got nothing. It's Nebraska. It's where jokes about states go to die.

  • Mezzanine||

    They beat everyone to the punch and named their college team after corn. It's like a fat guy saying "yeah, I'm fat, what of it" There's just nowhere to go after that.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    The 911 system of emergency communications, now used nationwide, was developed and first used in Lincoln, Nebraska.

    The Naval Ammunition Depot located in Hastings was the largest U.S. ammunition plant, providing 40% of WWII's ammunition.

    And, arguably most impressively of all: the cost of the Nebraska Capitol building was $ 9,800,440.07 in 1932. The construction job came in under budget and the building was paid for by the time it was completed.

    Source: from memory.

  • ||

    Another Nebraska fun fact: Nebraska is the only state in the USA with a unicameral legislature.

  • ||

    Also Queensland is the only Australian state with a unicameral legislature.

  • ||

    The similarities end there. Queensland is Australia's Florida while Nebraska is more like New Zealand than anywhere in OZ (except that NZ has mountains and NE doesn't).

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Also, the local hobbit population was extirpated from their homes by competition from invasive prairie dogs some 15,000 years ago.

  • DiegoF||

    Yes. We might joke about Australia being a theme park of all the shit that Nature created to kill you, but only our Plains has plague. Beat that, roo-fuckers.

  • ||

    Ah yes, New Mexico, come for the archeological ruins and the quaint native weavers and jewelry makers , stay for the bubonic plague.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Hey now, I get that there's lots of bad blood between your people and the prairie dogs, but I won't stand for racial slurs.

  • Cyto||

    And the Hantavirus. Don't forget that.... plenty of hantavirus to go around in New Mexico.

    Oh... and leprocy! Don't they have a few armadillos running around?

  • colorblindkid||

    I don't understand why it's so hard to execute people. We put people in induced comas all the time. Why can't we just do that and then stop their heart mechanically? Or fill the room with carbon monoxide or nitrogen? While I oppose the death penalty solely because of the risk of getting it wrong, while it exists I sure would like them to use a sane method.

  • Mezzanine||

    That's pretty much what lethal injection is and it requires drugs they can't get.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Same here. I don't want the government executing people, but I do not understand what makes it so complicated.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Long answer short: Because politics.

    Long answer long: A lot of the brutally effective methods fell into disuse because they're gorey and Americans don't like to be reminded that we're executing someone when we execute them. Which led us, in the later half of the 20th century, to the gas chamber and lethal injection.

    Gas chamber (like hanging) has a lot of bad associations though, so it's not a popular one. Lethal injection has the problem that these days most drug companies don't want to sell drugs for the purpose of killing someone. Leading to the black market sales. And on the other side, many doctor and nurse associations have said that their members shouldn't be doing executions either, because they're about preserving and saving lives not taking them.

    So you're left with states trying to get black-market drugs to kill folks with, and then have them administered by folks that don't know how to find a vein.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    That doesn't come close to explaining why we can put pets to sleep in seconds, painlessly enough for family to hold them, yet cannot put criminals to sleep without drama.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Maybe the volume required. Maybe humans don't react the same to those cocktails. Maybe it's a completely different thing.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Long story short: one of the executioners needs to man up and spoon the convict as he snuffs it.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Thanks, I was about to google "What chemicals do they use to kill animals" but I figured that would get me on a list.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    No worries, I'm the Designated Watch-List Entrant for most people I know.

  • LarryA||

    Read history. There's only one list. Everyone's on it.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Some of us more than once!

  • Phos||

    Don't worry about the list, you've posted on Hit & Run.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    AKA reasons #317 through #4,922 that I am on that list.

  • EscherEnigma||

    You don't think "because politics fucks everything up" is a satisfactory answer? I mean, I can go into more detail of how politics has fucked up executions in America, but that really is what it boils down to.

  • ||

    Which led us, in the later half of the 20th century, to the gas chamber and lethal injection.


    Actually, the the gas chamber was an early 20th century development.

    The electric chair, on the other hand was a late 19th century idea to lessen the suffering of the prisoner.

  • ||

    The fact that the electric chair caused a great deal more suffering for the prisoner than either hanging or a firing squad was something that did not become common knowledge until the 1980s.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    That would have been well known to the people who witnessed the first execution by electric chair.

    You are correct that the general public didn't figure it out until the 80s, but I'm shocked that they managed to keep just how bad it was that quiet for that long.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    You're shocked?

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    "The electric chair, on the other hand was a late 19th century idea to lessen the suffering of the prisoner."

    That's not the whole story.

    Yes, the inventor of the electric chair intended it as a more humane form of execution, but he was financed by Thomas Edison who backed the electric chair for no other treason than to try and discredit alternating current as too dangerous.

    For Edison's purposes, the more brutal and gruesome it was, the better. And gruesome it was.

    Eventually, the day of the first electric chair execution came; the hapless guinea pig was a convicted murder named William Kemmler. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Southwick was ceremoniously invited to attend the event.

    For 17 agonzing seconds, electricity coursed through Kemmler's body, and then he was pronounced dead. And just as Arthur Southwick announced: "This is the culmination of ten years work and study. We live in a higher civilization today," everyone noticed that Kemmler was still alive.

    It took some time for the electric chair to rebuild its current, but when Kemmler was shocked for the second time, the current completely cooked his already damaged body. Some horrified witnesses fainted or ran out of the room from the smell of burning flesh. Others claimed to see smoke "at the top of his head".
  • ||

    Indeed. Thank you.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Long answer short: Because politics.

    Long answer long: A lot of the brutally effective methods fell into disuse because they're gorey and Americans don't like to be reminded that we're executing someone when we execute them. Which led us, in the later half of the 20th century, to the gas chamber and lethal injection.

    Gas chamber (like hanging) has a lot of bad associations though, so it's not a popular one. Lethal injection has the problem that these days most drug companies don't want to sell drugs for the purpose of killing someone. Leading to the black market sales. And on the other side, many doctor and nurse associations have said that their members shouldn't be doing executions either, because they're about preserving and saving lives not taking them.

    So you're left with states trying to get black-market drugs to kill folks with, and then have them administered by folks that don't know how to find a vein.

  • chemjeff||

    This is of course part of ACLU's campaign to try to abolish the death penalty sneakily by going after the drug makers for the lethal injection cocktail. I guess their idea is that if the "sanitized" ways to execute someone are all made prohibitively difficult, then states will have to resort to the "uglier" ways, like the electric chair or firing squad, which are more politically problematic. I'm opposed to the death penalty but I'm not sure I like the tactics that the ACLU is using. I think their sneaky tactics undermine support for eventual repeal later on, since their "concern" isn't really offered in good faith. Besides, considering all the fuckups by the state on imprisoning innocent people and then seeing them exonerated, we may be closer than we think to getting rid of the death penalty.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Yep.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    That being said, there seems to have been a lot of difficulty with lethal injection. I don't believe in the death penalty myself, I will admit this upfront. But if we are going to do it, we should use the guillotine or something more humane. I can't think of few things more disgusting than the idea that we actively kill people in a more painful way, because the less painful ways make us feel too bad about killing them.

    That mentality is a nothing mentality.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Someone needs to talk to a guillotine survivor and ask if it really hurt or not.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Oh, man, now we have to call them "survivors" too?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Look, Destiny's Child made this world, I just live in it.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    I feel blessed to have absolutely no idea what this is a reference to.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Whereas I do not feel shame at giving that link a miss.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    From what I understand, you probably have a couple of seconds to get your answer, assuming the chosen method of answering doesn't require an airway.

  • Michael S. Langston||

    Blink once if it doesn't hurt, twice if it does :)

  • Coffee boy||

    We found some drug dealers to execute.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    No, caffeine is still legal.

  • Brian||

    I'm against the death penalty the way progressives are for free speech.

    Yeah, I'm against the death penalty, but... sometimes you just have to kill murders and rapists. I mean, sounds like a good thing to kill those people good and hard.

  • SIV||

    I'm a prison abolitionist so I'm fine with retributive violence. I just don't think the state should have a monopoly on it.

  • Agammamon||

    The issue is, as it always is, is - do you trust the state to get it right? Like a lot. Even just most of the time? Not 100% but like . . . 2/3rds? Because it really looks, from the data that we get, that its closer to 50/50 whether the guy on death row did it or was railroaded by crooked cops who just wanted to clear a case and a court system that simply doesn't work for justice - only throughput.

    I've got no problem with executions - on paper. I just don't think our government, at any level, has demonstrated that it deserves for us to entrust this duty to it. I'd rather pay for a life sentence than send the wrong man to the gallows/chair/gurney

  • Agammamon||

    If we can trust the government to kill people - then we could trust it to spy on us too.

  • Azathoth!!||

    What does 'the state' have to do with this?

    Are there summary judgments for execution? Are there bench trials that get death sentences?

    I'm pretty sure that it's twelve people, citizens, who decide.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    12 people wielding the power of the state.

    Also known as: the state.

    If a jury of 12 citizens decided to fine Bushmaster the entirety of its annual income for selling AR-15s as a warning to other manufacturers, how is that not state action?

  • Phos||

    With all the poop that the DA and cops get away with, the jury can be bamboozled.

    Not being able to get a MD to administer injection can be an issue. I bet there are some former junkies in the prison that can find a vein. Also not all drugs are intravenous. Intravenous or oral would be easier to do.

  • Phos||

    Of course the defense can also 'Razzle-Dazzle 'em."

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Which is exactly why Bill Murray was disbarred.

  • LarryA||

    sometimes you just have to kill murders and rapists

    Murderers and rapists? Meh. Lock them up and let old age pull the switch.

    I'd nominate hackers who write computer viruses.

  • Dan S.||

    As long as execution is legal, there needs to be a legal way to carry it out. States where assisted suicide is legal don't seem to have difficulty carrying that out, so why can't the same drugs be used?

  • ||

    You bring up an interesting point. The AMA and the various state medical associations have basically prohibited doctors from participating in executions. This leaves LEOs and prison guards with EMT training responsible for administering lethal injection drugs.

    All of the USAs assisted suicide laws require (among other things) the patient to voluntarily request it and to be competent. Furthermore patients are required to administer the medication to themselves. This is because medical associations (and others, eg the Catholic Church) demanded theses protections against any appearance of euthanasia. And frankly, no decent or moral person likes the idea of taking another person's life.

  • ||

    And frankly, no decent or moral person likes the idea of taking another person's life.



    Hence, all of the subterfuge we go through to make execution appear "legal", "safe" (really) and not cruel or unusual.

  • Agammamon||

    That and the process is deliberately designed so that no single person can 'feel like they've killed someone'. Similar to how firing squads like to issue a blank to one shooter in the team.

  • ||

    I'm pretty sure that anyone who has fired a .30 caliber rfile of any kind can tell if they have fired a blank cartridge or not.

    This guy agrees:



    Re: Anyone Know What Rifle Is To Be Used In Utah Firing Squad Case?
    " Reply #4 on: June 15, 2010, 06:17:13 pm "
    I never understood the "one has blanks" part. Whoever had the blank rounds would know it as soon as they pulled the trigger, because of the total absence of recoil. This is especially true in the Winchester 94 .30-30, and other like caliber weapons like the Marlin models. My Winchester Model 94 is quite light, and has a hefty recoil in .30-30. If this is to prevent any of the shooters from packing their bags and going on a guilt trip, it is only going to work for the one guy who had the blanks, and he'll know it as sure as the other 4 who didn't. Bill T.

    Gun Control Is Like Trying To Reduce Drunk Driving, By Making It Tougher For Sober People To Own Cars
  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    I dunno, my old Enfield 1917 is a really soft shooter even with live rounds. Executions like this are usually with that kind of old bolt-action AFAIK, so with a heavy enough gun...

  • ||

    I seem to recall reading somewhere that Utah firing squads using 30-30 ammo. That would likely mean Winchester '94s. Utah firing squads were drawn from a statewide pool of volunteers from law enforcement agencies. Moe than likely they were Mormons who would almost certainly believe that they were acting in accordance with God's law that a murderer must atone through the "spilling of his blood."

    I kind of suspect that the one round is a blank originated in the military where firing squads were drawn from conscripts who would be naturally reluctant to kill "one of their own". The most enthusiastic killers of deserters in WWI were the English and the French. I own a couple of Lee Enfield 303s. Believe me, you pull the trigger on one of those and you can tell whether you had a blank in chamber. The French Lebel rifle used a roughly equivalent load.

    I'm going to go along with the commenter I quoted above.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    I could believe a 30-30 having that problem because I've never shot one and don't know what its recoil profile is. But I have a .303 Lee-Enfield in addition to the 1917, and I've never found either to have a lot of recoil, of the sort that would be hard to duplicate with a weaker round. And obviously military executions would be with bolt, not lever, guns; and I'm pretty sure most state and national civilian executioners wouldn't have lever guns lying around either.

    Of course, I've never fired a blank through either- actually, I don't think I've ever fired a blank, period*- so like I said, I dunno.

    As far as moving this discussion forward is concerned, it's also worth noting that the "let's use a blank round!" decision probably came from pencil-pusher lawyers that never fired a gun in their lives, not the yahoos shanghaied into pulling the triggers.

    *obligatory snicker

  • ||

    Thread is probably dead, but if you're interested, blanks produce no recoil at all which is why semiautomatic pistols will not cycle with blanks. Rifles like the M14 and the M16 need to have a barrel block installed to make sure there is enough gas trapped to create enough pressure so they can fire full auto or cycle semi auto.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    It's alive! It's alive!

    Anyway, I could still sort of see a relatively muscular, and/or nervous soldier not noticing the decrease in recoil with a heavy bolt-action, given how little there is in the first place with the heavier ones.

    Regardless, I think the "lawyers don't know what 'recoil' is" theory is fairly universally applicable.

    Incidentally, we are not the first to have this discussion.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    no decent or moral person likes the idea of taking another person's life

    HEY!

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Your throbbing erection at the idea is okay as long as you can plausibly deny you really wanted it.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    What's next, sending me to a "Pray Away The Bloodlust" camp?

  • SIV||

    After lights out the friendly camp counselor will take you and your accountability buddy to a lynching.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    I would like to state for the record that I will only partake of this racially discriminatory violence event in protest of being denied access to equal-opportunity carnage venues.

  • SIV||

    Lynching IS equal opportunity. Even if you apply the "disparate impact" standard vigilante violence "victims" were a rainbow of diversity. Georgia's most celebrated lynching "victim", Leo Frank, was a rich white male capitalist.

  • ||

    And a Jew. Thus, an outsider (one of the favored targets of KKK violence).

    The KKK were not that hot on capitalism either.

  • ||

    Also, black victims of lynching vastly outnumbered white ones, even in Northern and Western states.

    The only thing that the south can be called out on is that there were many more lynchings there than in the rest of the country. And they continued long after they began to taper off in the north and the west.

  • SIV||

    Leo Frank wasn't an "outsider" because he was a Jew, more because he was a Yankee child molester.There were at least two Jews on the grand jury that indicted Frank. The South sent Jews to the US Congress in antebellum days and the Confederate Treasury Secretary was Jewish. Many Jews served with distinction in the Confederate military.The South welcomed Jewish immigration since the colonial era. Some of the oldest synagogues/congregations are in the South.

    The anti-Semitic KKK had its largest membership in Indiana and Pennsylvania.

  • SIV||

    Leo Frank was convicted of the murder of Mary Phagan in a trial with "fairness" and scrutiny most atypical for even our contemporary era.

  • ||

    The anti-Semitic KKK had its largest membership in Indiana and Pennsylvania.



    Shouldn't that be "largest membership outside of the southern states". The Klan also had significant membership in Oregon, a state which entered the Union with and anti-slavery platform and a clause in it's Constitution that excluded blacks from being residents.

    So, fine, the south is not uniquely racist, but it did lead the in the number of black lynchings for most of the history of the country.

    Just because Leo Frank's lynching was notorious does not diminish the number of blacks that were lynched before and after.

    And, yes, I have arguments that he was, in fact, guilty and to be sure, lacking any certain knowledge, I can't express an opinion either way. But guilt does not excuse a lynching. If the state had convicted him justly, they would certainly have dealt with him justly.

    As to all of your statements such as, "The South sent Jews to the US Congress in antebellum days and the Confederate Treasury Secretary was Jewish", all well and good. That does not alter the fact that mobs don't follow what the elites of their societies decree. The fact is that Leo Frank was lynched in large part because he was Jewish. Perhaps because the mob was afraid that a Jew-loving political elte might go easy on him in some way.

  • ||

    I have [heard] arguments

  • ||

    It's worth noting that the Klan had significant membership among "working-class'' whites and particularly where trade unionism was strongest. Especially in the "craft' unions (AFL).

    The industrial unions (CIO) tended to be better but the best were the Wobblies who tended to be wholeheartedly in favor of racial equality and equal opportunity.

    The main problem for blacks with all of them was that they all wanted blacks to become (ie act like) white people. That cultural divide exists until today.

  • SIV||

    So, fine, the south is not uniquely racist, but it did lead the in the number of black lynchings for most of the history of the country.

    The South had, by far, the highest Black population. Now were most of the lynchings in retribution for violent crimes of a most heinous nature of which the executed were most certainly the perpetrators? Or were they just "uppity" and whistling at white women?

    The historical record indicates the former.

  • SIV||

    If the state had convicted him justly, they would certainly have dealt with him justly.

    Frank was convicted and sentenced to death. He received clemency through political corruption. The "mob", made up of prominent citizens and relatives of his victim seized him and carried out the sentence originally handed down by a court of law.

    The ADL and historians (unsurprisingly for progressives) have always tried to pin the crime on an innocent Black man.

    If you can dispel your preconceptions even the defendenses Leo Frank are damning as to his guilt. His defenders admit he regularly forced sex on 12 and 13 y/o girls in exchange for paying them the wages they had earned and were owed. 13 y/o Mary Phagan was murdered when she went to collect her pay. Early 19th century Atlanta wasn't about to look the other way if they thought there was any chance a Black laborer was the culprit.

  • Cyto||

    So, fine, the south is not uniquely racist, but it did lead the in the number of black lynchings for most of the history of the country.

    In a completely unrelated fact, the overwhelming majority of black people lived in the south during that time period.

    Also - the scary bit about this sort of mob mentality and tribal mentality is that people actually believe the stuff they are acting on. I always had assumed that the juries that acquitted the white men who lynched black men back in the decades around the turn of the century were acting cynically - everyone knowing full well that they did it and just voting to acquit in order to protect their own. A tacit endorsement of their actions by society as a whole, rendering the whole society equally guilty.

    Then came the OJ Simpson trial. And a lot of my black friends and coworkers actually believed he was innocent. They rationalized their world view and believed in his innocence 100%. Fast forward a few years and that belief had changed - usually without any acknowledgement of the change.

    People in tribes or mobs are scary.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    (reply to SIV)

  • ||

    Interesting point. Thank you for that insight.

    But, actually, you maybe should have said as a reply, "Only untilafter 1866 or so."

    I think the explanation for the low number of black lynchings before then is as follows. During the slave era blacks were a costly investment for their owners so they were largely protected from lethal violence (don't get me wrong slaves lived brutal and exploitative lives). Only the most recalcitrant and rebellious slaves would ever be deliberately killed. Those that sill had work in them were "sold down the river".

    It was only after emancipation when freed slaves got all "uppity" that they needed to be "put in their place" with the KKK's terrorism.

    You have opened an entirely new line of discussion here.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    @ Isaac

    That was a response to SIV's assertion about blacks not being disparately impacted.

  • ||

    Telcontar the Wanderer|3.12.18 @ 11:10PM|#

    (reply to SIV)


    That did not appear until I sent my response. Possibly because I took so long to compose my reply.

    I will point out here that my preducies are completely Yankee, largely due to the fact that all but one of my great-great-grandfathers fought on the Union side.

    I have, however learned since that like many other things, these things are not quite that simple.

  • ||

    Telcontar the Wanderer|3.12.18 @ 11:45PM|#

    We seem to be playing comment tag.

    Nevertheless I have found our talking across each other rather enlightening.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Oh, when it comes to comment threading cofusion, I've seen much worse.

  • Johnimo||

    Morphine is way, way, way too much fun. We can't have the executed leaving this world listening to rock-n-roll and with a big smile on his face. IT'S GOTTA' FUCKIN' HURT.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Now you're getting it.

  • SIV||

    MISSUS MURDERED MISSING MONORAIL MECHANIC?

    I like alliterative headlines.

  • Emotional Opposition Animal||

    Oh look, Reason cheering for the Controlled Substances Act and DEA.

  • SIV||

    New here?

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Oh look, Reason cheering for the Controlled Substances Act and DEA pointing out how quickly law-and-order authoritarians flaunt their own precious drug laws when it's in pursuit of an even more violently statist end.
  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    And how quickly reason no longer likes free trade...

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    And how quickly reason no longer likes free trade law-and-order authoritarians flaunting their own precious drug importation laws when it's in pursuit of an even more violently statist end.
  • SIV||

    If your objection to the death penalty is solely based on the possibility that the state convicted an innocent would you be OK with killing in capital cases where the defendant doesn't deny he did it?

    "It wasn't me, I'm innocent!" isn't always (or even often) the typical defense in these cases. Appeals are almost always on procedural grounds as well.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    And when he's a schizo who thinks he did it, but didn't?

    Or are libertarians supposed to support the death penalty as de facto punishment for mental illness now?

    What's wrong with a concrete box, anyway? Why is the oak box so much more desirable as a punishment?

  • SIV||

    Oak's too good for 'em. Pine or ply is the most they deserve.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Why is the coffin of material to be determined by a subcommittee convened for that purpose at a later date so much more desirable as a punishment?

  • SIV||

    When you determine someone really and absolutely should be removed from human society why put them in an expensive to maintain cage with other humans? They might get out.

    Having the cage and keepers available also encourages criminalizing all sorts of other things that were OK, or just socially unacceptable, until the legislature was in session.

  • SIV||

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    When you determine someone really and absolutely should be removed from human society

    The problem is that that "you" refers to an agent, office, or assembly of the United States Government.

    I might have to trust them to figure out who committed a crime. But I don't have to trust them to get it right the first time. Not if I can help it.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    And how exactly do you intend to punish petty theft, misdemeanor assault, etc., without prison?

    Fines and the lash don't work on crazies, and chopping off hands or such brings us back to the "irreversibility" thing.

  • SIV||

    Could we kill Loughner and Holmes? No one, including them , ever disputed they committed most heinous mass murder yet they're still living inside relatively comfy cages. What purpose does that serve? Would any moral principle have been violated if they were summarily executed on the spot?

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    You can always find an "obvious" example where "everyone agrees" someone should have had the shit killed out of them.

    The problem is that the law you create for those guys, has to be applied to everybody else too. And for every Big Case where it's obvious as shit that the fuck deserves to get gakked, there are a dozen more where it's not nearly so simple. I saw a study that said 4% of death row inmates- about 200 since 1973- are innocent; most of them are able to plead down to life imprisonment, but not all of them.

    And I think the multiple condemnations from the UN, Amnesty International and other human rights groups, however overblown and hysterical they may or may not be, can safely be said to establish our Supermax prisons as "not relatively comfy".

  • chemjeff||

    Sure, "we" (actually, the state) can kill Loughner and Holmes, the moment at which you are at peace with a government full of Hillary Clintons and Barack Obamas deciding who gets to live and who gets to die.

    Not at all unrelated: "Climate Change Denial Should Be A Crime"
    http://theoutline.com/post/220.....i=b2zf7lj3

  • Emotional Opposition Animal||

    a government full of Hillary Clintons and Barack Obamas deciding who gets to live and who gets to die.

    Juries, not government officials, hand out death penalties. And that can only occur by the case passing through oodles of judicial reviews any one of which can block the death penalty option.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Is your jury comprised of humans?

    Are those humans wielding the power of the state?

    Because that's the problem.

    Same goes for the reviewers. The processes that render state medical, educational and regulatory bodies flawed and unreliable do not magically cease to apply when applied to the judiciary. It's all government. Irremediable; irredeemable; incurable.

  • Emotional Opposition Animal||

    And when he's a schizo who thinks he did it, but didn't?

    A ridiculously rare possibility... and of course if there is evidence that said schizo didn't do it, the prosecution has to hand it over.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Cause prosecutors are so good at handing over exonerating evidence to the defense.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

  • Phos||

    Always assume the hidden /sarc tag on H&R.

    But, informative link TW. Thanks.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Welcome.

    But sadly, I'm pretty sure he was all too serious.

  • Azathoth!!||

    They don't get to live because their victims didn't get to live.

    And why a box at all? Hefty is what garbage goes in.

    The death penalty is the punishment for the ultimate violation of the NAP. Someone who refuses to respect the right of others to live forfeits their own right to life. Regardless of their mental state.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Someone who refuses to respect the right of others to live forfeits their own right to life

    How fortunate, then, that you always know who that is.

  • DiegoF||

    I'm confused.

    All criminal trials begin with a plea; that is the only "It wasn't me; I'm innocent!" that's ever called for. Defense for the body of the trial consists simply of sowing doubt in the state's argument for guilt, because again, that is the nature of criminal trials in our system. And getting a new trial on appeal is always only about procedural irregularities; innocence isn't necessary--or even, as Scalia infamously wrote for SCOTUS, sufficient--for deserving one!

    Normally people who admit to their crimes get a better deal for their admission, whether it's a plea or (later) parole. Arguably, the death penalty (in this country, but even going back to Biblical times) has been as much about prosecutorial plea leverage as anything else; this is a powerful argument for or against it depending on your perspective. It would be quite remarkable for a penal system to make admission the sole criterion for a harsher sentence. I think if you did that, you'd basically only get the very small number of condemned who deliberately want to die (either for suicidal or justice reasons) taking advantage. Everyone else would give the same kind of pro forma denial they've always given, even when it's scarcely believable. There'd be nothing stopping them.

  • SIV||

    Normally people who admit to their crimes get a better deal for their admission,

    That's bad. It leads to leniency for the self-serving admission that "I robbed the house and raped the victim but some other guy killed her". Even when his spooge is in her snatch and his fingerprints are on her neck. Sometimes the jury ultimately finds the "other guy" wasn't even there.

  • Chumby||

    Maybe. But people have been forced into confessions.

  • Emotional Opposition Animal||

    Or the fact that many libertarian DP opponents would consider it perfectly legal to shoot dead a person who points a water pistol at you, because you couldn't tell whether it was a real gun or not and the idiot shouldn't have been pointing something that looks like a gun at you. (which I would agree with)

    Then you come to the case of someone who is on camera shooting 20 people dead in cold blood, and the same libertarians believe it would be a hideous crime to put them to death, because we're only 99.99999999% sure the person is guilty, because maybe someone falsified the video, and nobody was actually shot, because all the witnesses were lying and the autopsies were also falsified.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    What part of "you have to apply the same law you make for the easy case to all the complicated cases that come afterward" do you people not get.

  • Chumby||

    Bump stock firing squad.

  • Agammamon||

    Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts told reporters . . .that the ACLU "is fabricating charges in a desperate attempt to foil the will of the people of Nebraska." A Nebraska Department of Corrections spokesperson claimed to the Omaha World-Herald that the department legally obtained the drugs and that the ACLU's letter "contains inflammatory language clearly intended to discredit the department."
    . . . the state government began an aggressive campaign to keep details about its death penalty protocols secret.

    Seems to me that if this is the will of the people then the people should know how you're going about implementing their will - because the 'will of the people of Nebraska' is to have someone killed doesn't mean that the 'will of the people of Nebraska' wishes you to break other laws to accomplish this.

    They want it done, they should have their noses rubbed in the how.

  • Emotional Opposition Animal||

    Seems to me that if this is the will of the people then the people should know how you're going about implementing their will

    Bullshit.

    If the will of the people is that Enemy Airbase X be attacked, that doesn't imply that the military has to publish their battle plan for everyone to see.

    In many cases publicizing methods by which the govt accomplishes the people's will would thwart the implementation. In this case they're worried not about the people of Nebraska knowing, but litigious outsiders who use dishonest tactics to achieve ideological ends.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Whereas the people lying about their illegal actions in pursuit of bringing back the death penalty are not "using dishonest tactics to achieve ideological ends". Apparently.

    And a more apt comparison might be the DoD hiding its high rates of "collateral" civilian casualties in Waziristan because "national security". This isn't just a question of tactics or strategy, as your hypothetical attack on Enemy Airbase X is: it's a question of cost, specifically how many of your principles you're willing to sacrifice to achieve your goal. A better analogy might be a planned attack on, say, Enemy Population Center X: there might be good reasons for killing civilians, just as there are plenty of good reasons for breaking laws, but the state officials entrusted with that decision, ought never to be trusted with it alone. They will always choose the expedient, short-sighted, easy option, whether it be vaporizing a village of civilians to kill one terrorist or establishing (/expanding) a precedent of selective LEO obedience to statutory law in pursuit of executing a few criminals.

  • Novichok||

    Just curious but is there specific language in the criminal codes of these capital punishment states that exempts the executioner and their co-conspirators from the prohibition against killing another.

  • Sigivald||

    Not in Nebraska's case (I just checked), and I believe not generally.

    Primarily because of the basic legal principle that something the law mandates or explicitly permits cannot itself be a crime.

    That and there's no general prohibition "against killing another" in most of the State legal systems [all?]; there are various ones against killing people unlawfully, or maliciously, or while committing crimes, or via negligence.

    (In NB, it can't be Murder 1, because that requires malice, and malice as a term of art requires e.g. "the intentional doing of a wrongful act without just cause or excuse and to be any willful or corrupt intention of the mind", which does not fit executing a condemned man [lacking reason to believe the condemned was wrongfully so].

    It would facially be Murder 2, possibly, though the courts differ, in their claims, as to whether malice is required by implication, except, again statutory construction standards require that statutes be construed to not be contradictory, and "things that are expressly called for cannot be also illegal".)

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