A new federal lawsuit has been filed pertaining to the practice of lethal injection of death row inmates.
The Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center in New Orleans filed the lawsuit late last week. According to The Clarion-Ledger, the lawsuit states Mississippi is one of the last remaining states to use the compound called pentobarbital before injecting a death row inmate with a paralytic agent and potassium chloride.
Attorney Jim Craig said, “If the compounded pentobarbital does not work to properly anesthetize the prisoner, he will be consciously suffocated to death by the second drug or suffer the burning injection and cardiac arrest produced by the third drug.”
The lawsuit asks that Mississippi be prohibited from using the last two drugs in the injection process.
Of course this could be a serious problem as far as ethical executions go. Whether having broken the law or not, a prisoner in the United States is still a citizen who has the same rights as any other law-abiding citizen.
This isn’t the first time this problem has come up nationally. The Los Angeles Times reported last summer of an Oklahoma inmate who took 43 minutes to die from the injection. This problem has become apparent in recent years and it’s hard to understand why.
What isn’t hard to understand is that our practice of executing prisoners by lethal injection has become unnecessarily barbaric. If you are going to execute someone, then you should make it quick and not make the victim suffer in agonizing pain.
The Death Penalty Information Center lists Mississippi as one of 14 states that uses the anesthesia pentobarbital in its execution. The fear is, of course, whether the drug coming from compounding pharmacies in Mississippi won’t actually work and the prisoner will be made to suffer.
Honestly, this lawsuit is the right call. People often forget because they are out of our lives so often, but prisoners have lives too. Each prisoner has a family outside of his or her cell that cares about him or her, even someone on death row.
Torture is illegal here in the U.S. This form of executing prisoners has become a form of torture. With so many stories concerning inmates taking 40 minutes to die and if we really have to kill certain inmates, then perhaps we should think of other ways of execution.