why are so many death row executions by lethal injection botched when vets can peacefully put animals “to sleep?”

60 views
0

I know this is a heavy topic, and for the record I don’t support the death penalty, but I’ve always been curious.

How is it that we can “put to sleep” pets and farm animals so they peacefully drift off, but so many death row executions end in a lot of pain for the person being executed?

I’ve also heard of issues with the government even acquiring the drugs needed for lethal injections. Why can’t they just use whatever they use for dogs and cats, but at a higher dose if needed?

Again, I know this is a dark topic, and I don’t want the government executing anyone, but I’ve always wondered about this.

In: Biology

Your submission has been removed because it concerns the behavior, treatment, evolution, breeding or genetics of common domesticated animals

Please search the archive for past posts, or ask in a more appropriate sub such as r/cats r/dogs r/pets r/answers

**If you believe this post was removed erroneously**, please [use this form](https://old.reddit.com/message/compose?to=%2Fr%2Fexplainlikeimfive&subject=Can%20you%20review%20my%20thread?&message=Link:%20/r/explainlikeimfive/comments/n38g5k/eli5_why_are_so_many_death_row_executions_by/Please%20answer%20the%20following%203%20questions:1.%20The%20concept%20I%20want%20explained:2.%20Link%20to%20the%20search%20you%20did%20to%20look%20for%20past%20posts%20on%20the%20ELI5%20subreddit:3.%20How%20is%20this%20post%20unique🙂 and we will review your submission. Note that **if you do not fill out the form completely**, your message **will not be reviewed**.

*I am a bot, and this action was performed automatically. Please [contact the moderators of this subreddit](/message/compose/?to=/r/explainlikeimfive) if you have any questions or concerns.*

The people who run the prisons have to buy the drugs for lethal injection legally because they are part of the government. But the people who sell the lethal injection drugs used for animals won’t sell to prisons, because they are worried about their reputation and they don’t want their drugs used on humans. Therefore, the prisons aren’t allowed to buy those drugs. The prisons have a hard time getting animal euthanasia drugs because there are only a few companies that make lethal injection drugs for animals and none of them sell to prisons.

So, the animal drugs (like Euthasol) aren’t available to prisons. Doctors know how to use other drugs specifically meant for humans to kill a person and in countries like The Netherlands there are generally no problems doing lethal injections for consensual euthanasia. But the doctors in America generally won’t work with the prisons either. This is because doctors are supposed to have a doctor/patient relationship with anyone they give medicine to. A doctor/patient relationship means that the doctor looks out for the best interests of the patient, and only gives them medicine if it helps them. An execution is not helping the prisoner, because the prisoner is not choosing to be executed. If a doctor prescribed a lethal medication to a person being executed or helped with the execution, then they would be violating their doctor/patient relationship and might lose their medical license. American doctors often violate the doctor/patient relationship in many other cases, but in the case of executions they don’t violate the relationship because they are very scared of losing their jobs and they know they can’t get away with it, because many medical boards have explicitly stated that they will punish a doctor who helped executions by removing their medical license. In most states if a doctors helped out with an execution or helped a prison get lethal injection drugs, then that doctor would be out of a job and couldn’t make money anymore! They might be able to help with one execution, but without a medical license they couldn’t help with more executions because they wouldn’t be able to prescribe medicine anymore. A similar problem arises with trying to get nurses to help with an execution.

So, the people who run prisons have to figure out how to execute someone using whatever drugs they can get their hands on, with minimal to no cooperation from doctors and nurses. Since most doctors won’t help, sometimes lethal injections are performed by prison officials who barely know how to even inject a drug into someone properly. Combined with the fact that prisons might only do a lethal injection once every several years, it leads to mistakes. Imagine having your gym coach perform a lethal injection once every ten years. Do you think they’d do a good job? That situation is similar to what happens in many prisons.

Finally, the people who run prisons are generally bad people who think it’s a good thing to make criminals suffer. This is because prisons started off as very bad places with bad people running them, and continue to stay bad because the prison leadership encourages bad / apathetic people to stay and get promoted, while good / caring people tend to leave the system because they can’t stand the bad people and the prison conditions. Similar situation to many American police departments. Because the people doing the execution want the person they’re executing to suffer, they may also intentionally botch the execution. I personally can’t think of any other reason for prisons to use three drugs rather than one other than to intentionally create an opportunity to make a person suffer; maybe someone else can explain that.

​

Links:

[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_thiopental](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_thiopental) — note that this drug is not sold to prisons generally.

[https://www.nlg.org/nlg-review/article/ending-the-unconstitutional-torture-of-three-drug-lethal-injections-a-rebuke-of-glossip-v-gross/](https://www.nlg.org/nlg-review/article/ending-the-unconstitutional-torture-of-three-drug-lethal-injections-a-rebuke-of-glossip-v-gross/) — has some notes on lethal injection protocols and additional reasons why they fail such as drug tolerance, etc. Discusses three drug vs one drug protocols.