Summary: Today, one of the bloggers that I follow regularly linked to Charles Pierce’s angry opinion piece on the State Of Oklahoma’s execution of Clayton Lockett: Barbarians In Oklahoma. Because I’ve recently been under a general anaesthetic for surgery, I was curious and decided on a whim to look up the drugs used in the “lethal injection cocktail.” Shaken and upset, I hope that my interpretation of the pharmacological effects is wrong. I’m pretty sure I am not.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
— Eighth amendment to the US Constitution
- The three drugs
- Putting it all together
- Death with Dignity
- Torture is a crime
- About the 8th amendment
- For More Information
Let me state for the record that I am not an anesthesiologist or a pharmacologist. I am currently trying to vet this material with a few professionals and am already gathering feedback that leads me to believe I am not wrong. I may be. If I am wrong, I will publish a suitably public correction/retraction.
(2) The three drugs
The lethal injection package consists of three drugs given in sequence.
(a) The First Drug
The first drug is a mild hypnotic/disassociative. The subject would feel sleepy and dizzy, but it would not provide an anaesthetic effect. Hypnotics are often used in surgery because they tend to block the formation of long-term memories; subjects appear less likely to suffer PTSD symptoms as a result of surgery if their ability to remember the experience is blocked.
(b) The Second Drug
The second drug is Vecuronium Bromide – basically, Curare. Curare causes rapid and severe paralysis of muscles. The subject remains conscious and the curare does not block pain; it renders the subject unable to move, blink, speak – or breathe. Someone on curare feels as if they are being held down by impossible force, and they begin to strangle as their diaphragm muscles stop functioning.