Op-Eds


Paralyzing Prisoners

By Ty Alper, The New York Times

Different Drugs, Both Lethal” (Week in Review, April 10) barely mentioned the most troubling chemical in the three-drug formula that states use to execute prisoners: the paralyzing drug.

With all the controversy surrounding several states’ switch from thiopental to pentobarbital to anesthetize prisoners, the fact that these states are paralyzing inmates before executing them is getting lost. Pentobarbital may be used in animal euthanasia, but no veterinarian would paralyze an animal during a euthanasia procedure. To do so would be illegal in 42 out of 50 states.

Paralyzing prisoners before injecting them with the potassium chloride that kills them serves one purpose: to make the executions appear peaceful and humane. Are they in fact? It’s almost impossible to know.

That’s why the veterinary community rejects the practice of paralyzing animals during euthanasia. Our standards for human executions are not as high. 4/19/2011