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Lethal injection: can pharma kill the death penalty?

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A recent problematic execution by lethal injection has reignited the debate about the ethics of using medical products to kill. In October, Oklahoma prison inmate John Marion Grant was executed by a lethal injection. Strapped to a gurney, Grant convulsed and vomited – highly unusual for the procedure – after being given midazolam, a sedative and the first of three drugs that are usually administered for lethal injection. Grant was declared unconscious around 15 minutes after receiving the first injection and died roughly six minutes after that. Extreme shortages resulting from the EU’s and pharma companies’ anti-execution moves have seen states seek alternative supplies illicitly from overseas manufacturers , obtain them from less-than-reputable compounding facilities and manufacturers , and experiment with alternative drugs and untested combinations . Now, this botched procedure – Oklahoma’s first lethal injection in six years after a spate of flawed executions in 2014 and 2015 – h

Legislature to consider bringing back Alabama's famed 'Yellow Mama' electric chair

"Yellow Mama" is currently being stored
in the attic of Holman Correctional
Facility in Atmore, Alabama.
For 3/4 of a century (1927-2002), executions in Alabama were carried out using an electric chair dubbed "Yellow Mama," a nickname it was given after being covered in the same paint used to stripe Alabama's highways. "Mama" has been in storage since 2002 when legislation was passed giving prisoners the ability to opt for lethal injection. But if one Republican state legislator has his way, the chair may be brought out of retirement.

State Rep. Lynn Greer (R-Rogersville) told WSFA he plans to introduce legislation during the upcoming legislative session that would bring the chair back because of problems obtaining the drugs needed to conduct executions by lethal injection. Executions in Alabama are currently on hold because of a shortage of pentobarbital, 1 of 3 drugs that state utilizes when creating its execution cocktail.

There is also a lawsuit pending in Alabama to compel the state to release secret details about its lethal injection procedures, including the names of the companies who supply the chemicals.

"Theoretically, an hour before an execution is carried out, the [Department of Corrections] could unilaterally decide to lethally inject a condemned inmate with any form of poison sufficient to effectuate death, even if the poison results in excruciating pain, and where painless alternatives are available," the lawsuit states.

Rep. Greer says the holdups are costing taxpayers money because of the extended time death row inmates are cared for by the state.

"Those on death row today may be there for many many more years, because if we're using the lethal injection drugs and we don't have the drugs then we have no way of carrying out the process." he said.

Yellow Mama is currently being stored in the attic of Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore. It was originally made by an inmate named Edward Mason, who was serving a 12 to 60 year sentence for burglary and gran larceny. Mason was given a month's furlough for making the chair, but after he left for his furlough he was never seen or heard from again.

If Greer's legislation is passed, the chair would be taken down for use on current death row inmates.

Source: Yellow Hammer News, January 3, 2015

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