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Death Penalty

Report: Lethal Injection Cocktail Flawed

Posted Apr 24, 2007 10:39 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A scientific analysis concludes drugs used in lethal injections can cause excruciating pain.

The drug cocktail is supposed to make the inmate unconscious before his muscles are paralyzed and death is induced. But sometimes the inmate remains alert but paralyzed, so he is unable to cry out in pain.

The analysis was based on executions in North Carolina and California. It was published online in the April issue of PLoS Medicine.

The University of Miami surgery professor who led the analysis told the Washington Post the findings raise the possibility that inmates "are being tortured and you can't see it because they are paralyzed." Said professor Leonidas G. Koniaris, "I'm not sure a civilized society should be doing this."

Michael Rushford of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, a victims’ rights group, told the Post the report is suspect. "These people wouldn't be okay with Ethel Merman singing people to death," he said.

Rushford told the Los Angeles Times that despite flaws in the study, reform is a good idea.

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