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Syringe fitted with needle. Scale in ml. Cropped
If you're going to execute someone, the least you can do is be frugal about it, right?
Missouri's Attorney General called on the state's Supreme Court to set execution dates for two murderers before the state's supply of its new execution drug, propofol, expires, according to a Monday press release.
While in general you are not supposed to use expired drugs to kill people, even infamous murderers, the broader issue here is that the companies that make propofol are not keen on having the drug used to carry to out executions—so Missouri will probably not be able to acquire more. Other drug manufacturers have also refused use of their products for executions (it is not, in general, good brand placement), which is why Missouri had made the somewhat eyebrow-raising move to propofol to begin with. They have, however, found themselves blocked by the courts, as there is some question as to efficacy of the drug for the task. The drug has never before been used in an execution, and administering the drug in a lethal dosage can be tricky. Compounding the possibility of botched executions with the new drug: Missouri law dispenses with the requirement that a physician be present for the execution, allowing the injection to be done by a nurse or EMT.

It's not entirely clear why the attorney general is so keen on using this particular drug for these particular executions. Since the manufacturers are refusing to sell the drug as a capital punishment tool, Missouri is obligated to change its method of execution regardless; the AG's insistence that not using the drug in these cases will cost the state money by requiring it to develop alternatives seems a red herring. If Missouri is so concerned about having to throw out their several vials of the stuff, they could just give it to Texas; Perry seems to be presiding over an execution there every other week, and they don't let anyone's silly notions of due process get in the way.

I must confess I find it a bit fascinating that the death penalty, which has lasted so very long in this country despite being generally deplored by most other modern nations, is finding a formidable opponent in pharmaceutical company branding needs. Appealing to the fiscal prudence of not executing people, appealing to the obvious incongruity between condemning killings and giddily applauding the same, pointing out the seemingly alarming rates of prosecutorial misconduct and outright errors—none of that has had much effect. But having corporate brand managers miffed at being associated with the thing, now that's put some real gum in the works. Truly, a fine symbol of who really wears the pants in our democracy.

Originally posted to Hunter on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 12:39 PM PDT.

Also republished by Show Me Kos and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Looking out for the taxpayers. (9+ / 0-)

    Koster was an R but switched in 2006 over stem cells.  

    Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

    by TomP on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 12:41:32 PM PDT

    •  Wants to run for governor in 2016 (Jay Nixon is (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TomP, duckhunter

      term limited). Was a GOP state senator before switching parties in 2007. Might be vulnerable to a primary challenge by a better Democrat. Would be vulnerable to any "respectable" less-than-nutjob Republican (a la Jim Talent).

      Don't think he's that liked among Mo. Democrats.

      "There's a conceptual zone within which the romanticized historical past and the immanentizing historical future converge in a swamp of misapprehension and misstep. It's called 'the present'." - David Beige

      by Superskepticalman on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 01:47:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't know about that. (0+ / 0-)

        Missouri has so many right wingnuts that we are always a few votes off of electing outright insanity.  

        I see Jay Nixon as straight forward, reasonable, less tied to money than many others and he keeps his head down, stays out of the controversial spot lights as much as possible. He picks his battles against our General Assembly which is well populated with Tea Party extremists.

        I have respect for Governor Nixon and view him as probably doing the best job under the circumstances.

  •  Its the invisible hand. :-) nt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LilithGardener, houyhnhnm


  •  Sometimes, when I hear about the shit (3+ / 0-)

    these right wing-nuts are up to, I wish I could get me some "milk of amnesia".

    Let's hope the propofol expires, unused.

    Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense. Carl Sagan

    by sjburnman on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 12:59:12 PM PDT

  •  Idea for a new line of attack (14+ / 0-)

    Against the death penalty.

    The FDA has not approved this drug for the purpose of hastening death.

    Nurses are not allowed to prescribe or administer drugs off-label, although doctors may (but they have to have reasonable medical rationale for doing so).

    Couldn't the ACLU bring a case against the state for illegal experimental use of a drug on a human without conforming to any established human subject protocol?

    "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

    by LilithGardener on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 01:10:12 PM PDT

  •  Just like any pharmacist has religious freedom (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wishingwell, Eric Nelson

    to not dispense certain drugs, why can't we hold drug manufacturers and device makers accountable for their lack of ethical clarity.

    If they believe the death penalty is unethical they should refuse to sell the drug to states that still have the death penalty.

    "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

    by LilithGardener on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 01:12:06 PM PDT

    •  First head shaking thought (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sjburnman, Khun David

      that struck me upon reading this. I am seriously snarked out. I mean WTF?

      We view "The Handmaid's Tale" as cautionary. The GOP views it as an instruction book.

      by Vita Brevis on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 04:23:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  In my job, we use propofol (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Adam B, Eric Nelson, wintergreen8694

      a lot, but it is only given to patients who are intubated and on ventilators.  It is not meant to be administered the way it was administered to Jackson.

      Sigline? What Sigline?

      by Khun David on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 04:52:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What kind of dose would be required to (0+ / 0-)

        kill someone anyways? Michael Jackson was getting it on a daily basis. Seems like it would take a very high dose to quickly execute someone. But I am not a doctor....

        "How come when it’s us, it’s an abortion, and when it’s a chicken, it’s an omelette?" - George Carlin

        by yg17 on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 04:57:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Its brand problems may be greater than most ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Adam B

        ... because of Michael Jackson.

        Back during that Long Funeral summer of 2009, I was going to various doctors to get prepped for surgery later in the year. At one appointment, a colonoscopy I was, like so many other people, put under general anesthesia for the procedure.

        The anesthesiologist introduced himself to me shortly before I went in, which I appreciated. Once I was wheeled into the room, lying on the gurney, I asked him what he'd be knocking me out with. He responded with a mixture of drugs, including propofol. "Ah," I said, "what killed Michael Jackson."

        "That's one of the safest drugs we have," he responded, agitated. "Yeah," I said, "used this way." He eased up a bit, "Yeah, not sitting outside the patient's room smoking a cigarette." And then he began putting me under, and I don't remember more until the recovery room several hours later.

        I didn't see him again, but I had to feel sorry for him. From his initial tone of voice, he'd probably been having some variation of that conversation at cocktail parties all summer.

        Two years ago, at my high school reunion, I ran into a classmate who had herself become an anesthetic nurse (wouldn't have expected it of her from high school, but people change, and more power to her). I recounted that conversation. She got similarly defensive, telling me all about how propofol had revolutionized anesthesia because of so many good things about it (no side effects, for one), and Michael Jackson's doctor had just ruined it for the profession. My protestations that I knew it was safe didn't calm her down too much.

        I really wonder if some patients absolutely refused to have it after MJ died under it. I can easily imagine that ... and that must have been a real pain for the doctors. And then anyone who made it.

    •  By comparison, alcohol is a drug (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eric Nelson, Overseas

      that kills 100,000x that many people each year.

      And you don't even need a prescription to take it!

      How unbelievable is that?

    •  He shouldn't have been (0+ / 0-)

      It is meant to be used only for anesthesia under controlled conditions. It is in no way a sleep aid.

  •  Anyone else notice that these guys seem to (5+ / 0-)

    rub their hands together with glee at the death of others?  Kind of gives me the willies.  Lots of them, too many personally, get to legislate our lives.  Ick.

    The GOP will destroy anything they can't own.

    by AnnieR on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 01:43:08 PM PDT

  •  Koster is an advocate of capital punishment....... (0+ / 0-)

    This might turn out to a be another campaign ad.  

  •  Dumbest reasoning ever. (5+ / 0-)

    Can't find a replacement for your lethal injection drug?  Just bring back a firing squad/gallows/Ol' Sparky.  God knows you don't have to worry about bullets/rope/electrical connections expiring -- just those you use them on.

    I've always been a bit unnerved by the attempt to make the state's killing of people clinical and 'nice,' obscuring the actual violence being done.

    •  Yeah, I don't know what wrong with firing squads (0+ / 0-)

      I don't even think the "nice" methods are nicer.

      You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

      by Rich in PA on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 04:45:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah if it were me, I think I'd rather be shot (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Praxical, DSPS owl

        I'm not so sure lethal injection is painless. A well placed bullet would be instant and I doubt you'd feel a thing.

        Of course, we can just get rid of capital punishment altogether like nearly every civilized nation.

        "How come when it’s us, it’s an abortion, and when it’s a chicken, it’s an omelette?" - George Carlin

        by yg17 on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 04:49:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, but the 'nice' methods (0+ / 0-)

        let those in the execution party feel better about themselves.

        Personally, if we're going to have the state doing violence against a person, I say let it show on their corpse.  Maybe it will show more people what a terrible thing it is, and turn them against it.  As I understand it, with lethal injection, you generally don't even get a twitching corpse to upset you.

        •  Sounds like you've been reading Foucault. (0+ / 0-)

          Or you should. That account of the death of Damiens (who was executed for attempting to kill one of the kings of France in the mid-18th century by being drawn and quartered, the last time France used that method) at the beginning of Discipline and Punish is memorably gory. So gory, in fact, that I heard Foucault took it out of later versions of the book because he was embarrassed by it.

          •  Heh. (0+ / 0-)

            No, I haven't read that one, but it looks like an interesting read; it's going on my 'read if I'm ever in the mood for it' list. ;)  

            An important point I'd like to make is that the execution should be as fast and painless as possible for the one being executed.  I am against torture in all circumstances, and the death penalty too, except in the most extreme of cases.  

            On the other hand ... as I said above, I don't believe in insulating the State and the State's agents from the effects of their exercise of its power, nor the public at large.  I would like to see the Governor of whatever state is executing people to be the one personally responsible for the execution -- that is, the man at the switch, at the trapdoor lever, or manning one of the rifles.  

  •  as a historical aside . . . (10+ / 0-)
    I must confess I find it a bit fascinating that the death penalty, which has lasted so very long in this country despite being generally deplored by most other modern nations, is finding a formidable opponent in pharmaceutical company branding needs.
    this has happened before, sort of . . .  .

    Way back when electricity was first being utilized for homes, a conflict broke out between two large electric companies, owned respectively by Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse.  The conflict was mostly economic, but also had a technical side to it---Edison's system used low-voltage direct current, while Westinghouse's system used high-voltage alternating current.  To prove that his technology was safer (and therefore he should get the contract to electrify the city), Edison launched a PR campaign to paint the high-voltage Westinghouse system as "dangerous", and demonstrated this by flamboyantly using alternating current to publicly electrocute everything from cats and dogs to an elephant. Then, in the ultimate PR move, Edison had some of his own employees produce the electric chair, which used --you guessed it--high voltage alternating current to kill criminals, and publicly urged the state to adopt it as an execution device. The state obliged. Edison hoped that the move would demonstrate the danger of high-voltage systems, and also tar Westinghouse by associating him with death.

    Alas for Edison, Westinghouse's system was technologically superior, and was the one adopted (and still used today).

    •  That was Tesla's AC System. (0+ / 0-)

      George Westinghouse was just Tesla's business partner. Tesla had briefly worked for Edison, but quit over having his ideas stolen by Edison without any credit. Edison hated Tesla for being brighter, and for being a foreigner, and never passed up a chance to mock Tesla or put him at disadvantage.

      Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your shackles. It is by the picket line and direct action that true freedom will be won, not by electing people who promise to screw us less than the other guy.

      by rhonan on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 10:38:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Another Thomas Edison story. (0+ / 0-)

      I'm beginning to dislike this guy, Edison.

  •  This is a fascinating tidbit about Rick Perry: (3+ / 0-)
    Perry seems to be presiding over an execution there every other week, and they don't let anyone's silly notions of due process get in the way.
    Given that he is such a fount of forced-birth rhetoric and, lately, actions, it's curious that he's such a defender of the death penalty.

    It's an inconsistency I'd think his detractors would really want to play up.

    Thanks for the diary.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 04:22:34 PM PDT

    •  It gets no traction...babies are innocent, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      karmsy, Eric Nelson

      death row inmates have been found guilty.  Even not-really-religious people get the difference and have no problem with the 2 positions.

      Listening to the NRA on school safety is like listening to the tobacco companies on cigarette safety. (h/t nightsweat)

      by PsychoSavannah on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 06:49:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Except in Florida, evidently. (0+ / 0-)

        After an inmate is executed, the law also allows the state to destroy records relating to the convict's case, unless a lawyer objects, a change in policy that Simon of the ACLU finds shocking. "We may execute an innocent person and then destroy the files so the people of Florida will never know that we committed that travesty,'' he said. "It's essentially cover it up."
  •  The not-so-invisible hand (0+ / 0-)

    of "free market" capitalism at its best.

  •  Relevent Wikipedia... (0+ / 0-)

    Sigline? What Sigline?

    by Khun David on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 04:48:51 PM PDT

  •  Dear God. (0+ / 0-)

    "These are not candidates. These are the empty stand-ins for lobbyists' policies to be legislated later." - Chimpy, 9/24/10

    by NWTerriD on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 04:56:00 PM PDT

  •  I tried, really I did. But the only appropriate... (4+ / 0-)

    ...response is to channel Lewis Black on this: what-the-fuckity-fuck-fuck?

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 05:00:07 PM PDT

  •  Hit them in the wallet! (0+ / 0-)

    I see you drivin' 'round town with the girl I love / And I'm like / Please proceed, Governor. - Dave Itzkoff

    by Jensequitur on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 05:03:15 PM PDT

  •  How freak'n barbaric! n/t!!!!!!!!!!! (0+ / 0-)

    “The comfort of the rich depends upon an abundant supply of the poor.” - Voltaire.

    by LamontCranston on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 05:18:08 PM PDT

  •  I still wonder why no one has used N2 asphyxation (0+ / 0-)

    Easy, quick, cheap, and should be painless since we don't have oxygen detection. What makes you detect you're having a hard time breathing is carbon dioxide buildup. You'll die very quickly in a low oxygen environment, but you won't know it because you'll still be breathing out CO2.

  •  Chris Koster (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    From a campaign event in 2008, on being a (county) prosecutor:

    ...we basically went through three thousand cases a year for ten years, thirty thousand criminal cases in all during that period of time. You know I've probably got twenty homicide convictions, another thirty jury trials over that. And we had an extraordinary experience down there on a number of different levels.

    First, you know, we had big cases, big trials dealing with the Kansas City metro crime situation and crime scene. John Robinson came through there, and those ten women who were brutally murdered, and then stored as trophies in the, in the fifty five gallon drums. I was there the morning that we discovered the bodies of the women in Raymore. I had twenty detectives with us that day. Paul Morrison and I worked with probably eight jurisdictions full of detectives. We had an investigation room that was maybe two and a half times the size of this room with long tables that were full of computers and television screens, and different telephones. The room was just lined with detectives and every morning we would, be both before the arrests were made and after the arrests were made, every morning we'd meet over there in the detective room. It was just like something you would see on "Law and Order".

    And we'd go in there, there'd be a morning briefing. You know the, the pictures of the women, one by one, were up on the walls and we had to go through the identification process. I remember one day two detectives came in with two large trash bags, you know like uh, oh a thirty, not a thirty gallon trash bag, even bigger than that. Like a yard type waste trash bag full of paper that had been shredded long ways. That wasn't cross shredded, it was just shred long ways....these were documents that Robinson had shredded in a long style shredder and, you know, detectives took those...trash bags and pieced those documents back together [audience comment: "Oh my God"]. It was just, it, you talk about an incredible, incredibly tedious task.

    But, at every, at every level of law enforcement, from local, very closely knit community type law enforcement up to a case that got international attention, the Robinson case, Cass County gave me the experience to really see every level of law enforcement that occurs in the state of Missouri, and to participate at the top of that from the smallest case to the absolute biggest case. And, and every one of those twen.., twenty homicides we got a conviction in. We never lost one of those cases. My jury, my felony jury trial record in Cass County was, is a, remains a perfect record...

    In an interview before taking office, December 2008:

    SMP: You had previously also talked about a death penalty review panel. Is that something that you're, you're going to try to work on?

    Chris Koster: There are a number of issues that I want to talk to the prosecutors about. The prosecutors get back together I think in January and my hope is that meeting might be an opportunity for me to sit down with the electeds. I want to reach out to them for input on the death penalty issue in the state. There's also a lot of conflict cases that are coming in from the prosecutors to the Attorney General's office that we are handling. I'm not certain that is the path I want to continue on, I want to reach out to them as to whether they want to continue to use us as primary conflict counsel or whether they want to take some of these cases back. And I want to reach out to the police chiefs on these issues. When I was here as Assistant Attorney General in the late eighties and nineties, the Attorney General's office was more focused on simply the death penalty cases and conflict homicide cases. Now it has become much broader. I'm not certain that this is a better model and I know, you know, coming out of the prosecutor field myself, that prosecutors are pretty ambiguous about the increasing role of the Attorney General's office in this area. So I'm going to hold my thoughts on this until I get first hand input from my former colleagues in terms of where they want to take this, these prosecutions.


    This past May, in Kansas City:
    ....Occasionally there are legislative accomplishments that end with important laws, and front page stories in the Kansas City Star, and bill signings in the Governor's office, and conversations in barber shops across Missouri about how much better off or worse off we are because of those damn politicians. [laughter]  But there are other kinds of legislative accomplishments that go largely unnoticed. They end with no new law being passed, no entry in the statute books, or water cooler debate. And while historically and culturally important, they are, none the less, completely missed by this morning's [Kansas City] Star and nearly every other news outlet in Missouri. Yet because of these unnoticed accomplishments we ask, when we ask ourselves whether Missouri is a better place for our efforts our answer is a resounding yes.

    I swear to you on the twenty years of my life that I have dedicated to this profession one of those largely unnoticed acts that ranks among the most impressive legislative accomplishments that I have ever seen occurred last night just before dinner. And I want to take a minute with you tonight to respect it. Last night at five forty-five p.m.  with fifteen minutes left in the legislative, legislative session of two thousand and thirteen Senator Jolie Justus passed the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act. [applause, cheers] It was an attempt to make it illegal to fire someone simply because they are gay, to make it illegal to refuse to rent a hotel room to someone simply because they are gay. She passed it through the floor of the Missouri Senate. Unfortunately there was not time left to pass it through the House floor on the other side of the Capitol and so it did not become law. But the fact that here, in our home of Missouri, such a measure was taken up in an overwhelmingly Republican Senate and passed by a vote of nineteen to eleven is deserving of extraordinary respect and recognition.  The vote itself has been years in the making. And the efforts of Senator Joan Bray should not go unrecognized tonight. [applause]

    The Missouri Nondiscrimination Act, or MONA as it is called, has been filed every year for over a decade. For many years the legislature would not even give it a committee hearing. Then, about five years ago the Senate and the House began giving the bill committee hearings, but never considered it, passing it, never considered passing it out of committee or bringing it to the floor....

    Defining Chris Koster is not as simple as some people think.
  •  Not without precedent (0+ / 0-)

    "The drug has never before been used in an execution"

    Except in the case of Michael Jackson.

    The states must be abolished.

    by gtomkins on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 07:21:04 PM PDT

  •  Why the rush? It might have something to do with.. (0+ / 0-)

    ..a new study just released in Missouri concerning :

    Physician Participation in Executions, the Morality of Capital Punishment, and the Practical Implications of Their Relationship - by Paul Litton - University of Missouri School of Law
     June 28, 2013

    Adding to the concern, some say, is Missouri's written protocol which, like the one it replaced,  does not require a physician to be part of the execution team. It states that a "physician, nurse, or pharmacist" prepares the chemicals, and a "physician, nurse or emergency medical technician ... inserts intravenous lines, monitors the prisoner, and supervises the injection of lethal chemicals by nonmedical members of the execution team."

    Jonathan Groner, an Ohio State University surgeon who has studied lethal injection extensively, said propofol is typically administered by either an anesthesiologist, who is a physician, or a nurse anesthetist under the physician's direct supervision. Improper administration could cause a burning sensation or pain at the injection site, he said.

    "Physician Participation in Executions, the Morality of Capital Punishment, and the Practical Implications of Their Relationship" - Monday July i, 2013

    So if it is decided that only a phsician can administer these lethal drugs then pro-execution advocates take a hit - good

    But why Propofol? Maybe since Missouri is out of the older method of 3 drug combination and all drug companies are now refusing to sell for executions, Attorney General Koster is afriad that the ethics discussion will cause even more barriers to executions.

  •  Propofol? Interesting. (0+ / 0-)

    I use it in my job. It's not a drug that's exotic or hard to come by. It's weird that they want to execute people with it just because their supply is set to expire?

    Oh, that's right, it's MIssouri. I'm from Illinois and some of the things they do in the Bible thumping state to our west doesn't surprise me.

    I wonder how much they are thinking of using?

    I ask him if he was warm enough? "Warm," he growled, "I haven't been warm since Bastogne."

    by Unrepentant Liberal on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 06:50:04 AM PDT

  •  The only reason for the death penalty, (0+ / 0-)

    to keep people from shooting each other out of hatred and preventing the breakdown of society, doesn't seem to be working.



    Travon Martin.


    It seems like society has grown more violent since the Democratic Party embraced the DP.

  •  What happens after the "Use By" Date (0+ / 0-)

    What happens if the use the drug after the "Use By" date?  Will it kill the guy?  Isn't that what they want to do, anyway?  Isn't that the same sedative that killed Michael Jackson?  

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