"Florida’s Barbaric, Disgusting Decision to Execute a Prisoner Using an Untested Drug," is by Justin Peters at Slate.
On Tuesday, a convicted murderer named William Happ was strapped to a gurney in the death chamber of the Florida State Prison and executed via lethal injection. Happ was given a three-drug cocktail that included midazolam hydrochloride, a fast-acting sedative that had never before been used in capital punishment. Many observers worried that the untested midazolam might wear off before the other drugs took effect, thus subjecting Happ to excruciating pain. Sure enough, the Associated Press reported that Happ apparently “remained conscious longer and made more body movements after losing consciousness than other people executed recently by lethal injection under the old formula.”
Like many death-penalty states, Florida has nearly exhausted its supply of the popular execution drug pentobarbital, and has been frantically searching for an effective substitute. But while other states have halted their lethal injections until they can resolve this problem—just last week, Missouri postponed the execution of Allen Nicklasson due to concerns over the efficacy of the substitute drug propofol—Florida decided to forge ahead and deploy this untested drug. The state’s haste is barbaric and disgusting, and it sends a clear and chilling message: In Florida, the death penalty has less to do with justice than vengeance.
The death penalty is currently legal in 32 states, and in all of those states, lethal injection is the primary execution method. Lethal injection was first used in America in 1982—in Texas, naturally—and was seen as a more civilized method of execution than the gas chamber or the electric chair. “We said this is really ridiculous. We kill animals more humanely than we kill people,” Dr. Jay Chapman, the father of the modern lethal-injection process, remembered to CNN in 2007.
Earlier coverage from Florida begins at the link.