By Shannon Gwynne
Murder and killing. What do we think of when we hear those words? Most of us would say the scum of the earth who live their days planning out what it would be like to kill their spouse, friend or even a complete stranger. Then we can ask, what fuels these people to do the unthinkable? Jealousy, rage, or a sense or power over an individual or even a group of people.
In the book “A murderer next door: Why the mind is designed to kill” by David Buss, about 91 percent of men and 87 percent of women have had at least one thought of what it would be like to kill someone. Does this make us all sick sociopaths? The answer is no. Why? Because the majority of us know right from wrong and can realize the consequences that these actions can have. However, in some people their sense of judgement is clouded by thoughts of murder. Do these people realize what lies ahead for them if they are caught? Many don’t. After justice has been served, most of these people are given anywhere from multiple life sentences to the death penalty.
I currently live in Canada, where the death penalty was abolished a long time ago, but in some countries like the United States, the method of putting someone to death for a heinous crime is still present. Thousands of people have been hung, shot, stoned, electrocuted and the most modern method is lethal injection.
Lethal injection can be quite the controversial topic. For the past few years it has been known as the “3 drug cocktail” – made up of sodium pentothal, pavulon and potassium chloride. The sodium pentothal begins to shut down the nervous system and render the person unconscious. The pavulon slows down the heart beat and blocks the exchanges between the heart and muscles. Finally the potassium chloride stuns the heart to stop it all together, resulting in a hopefully-painless death. While some people may believe the word “painless” and “criminal” don’t go together, there has to be some sense of humanity left in these individuals.
There are 35 states in the United States that have the death penalty. Ohio is the only state which has now switched to the new cocktail – pentobarbital. However there is quite some controversy to this method because it hasn’t been tested yet.
Pentobarbital can be compared to an extremely strong sleep aid. It is used during animal operations and has even been used in some heart surgeries. Essentially, Ohio would be using a large amount of the drug to make it lethal.
There has been an ongoing battle with states regarding the use of pentobarbital in executions. This is because it has not been tested and it brings up the question of is the execution constitutional. So a big question is, will this put executions on hold? Will murders and rapists sit in their confined cell, with 3 meals per day as the system figures out all the bugs with the new method?
It seems everyone has mixed opinions on the new drug. The Danish pharmaceutical company Lundbeck Inc. who produces the drug even said they don’t want their drug being used for executions.
Another common question could be what are the side effects of the drug? Well since it isn’t tested it is hard to know. However in one case in Alabama, Thomas Douglas Arthur was supposed to be put to death but his lawyer Suhana Hun argued, saying it could knock her client out completely. She continued to say this could make injections extremely painful and could fall under the category of “cruel and unusual punishment”. Arthur spent most of his time on death row narrowly escaping his fate by requesting appeals for the “punishment”. His case is still pending.
The way I see it, is that someone who commits murder of someone deserves exactly what is coming to them. Again, this is coming from someone whose country does not have the death penalty. Whether it is pentobarbital or the traditional cocktail, the criminal knows what is coming. There is no evading it once you are strapped on that table. The controversy of pentobarbital continues, as long as the death penalty does.