The Torturous Death of Innocent Prisoners
by Jay B. Van Story
October 21, 2003

Death penalty advocates have always insisted that the preferred, modern method of execution - lethal injection - is humane, painless, and gentle. Now comes new evidence that it is, in fact, a particularly torturous method of putting prisoners to death.

Pancuronium bromide is injected to allegedly collapse the diaphragm and lungs. Perhaps it fulfills this objective, but what is the real reason it is used? According to a recent Austin American-Statesman editorial, it also unleashes a complete and total paralysis of the muscles. It has the effect of making the person it is being administered to suffer pure agony. It has the particularly sinister effect of masking these effects.

Our nation's veterinarians refuse to use this chemical to euthanize animals. Yet, TDCJ (Texas Department of Criminal Justice) finds it quite suitable for its purposes. The Nazis would be proud. Indeed, it is well known that it was the Nazis who invented lethal injection!

What should be particularly troubling to persons of moral conscience is realizing the overall mental and physical torture a death row prisoner must suffer when he has been falsely convicted and then put to death. As he feels the lethal chemicals course through his veins and probably experiences the most pain he ever has or ever will, he realizes that not only will his cries of innocence never be heard again, but he suffers the additional indignity of knowing that he will never be able to tell anyone that the state has lied to him once again in promising that his death will be quick and easy.

We've all read about the many persons who have been exonerated and taken off death row, some just minutes away from being executed. How many innocent people weren't exonerated in time? We can't even begin to guess accurately, but we can be sure there are many. The DNA age has shown us that witnesses lie, lab workers fabricate reports and testimony, prosecutors hide exculpatory evidence, expert witnesses give biased and inaccurate opinions, police coerce confessions, and on and on.

Our criminal justice system is rife with errors, mistakes and outright fraud. Certainly, it is true that the majority of those put on death row or in prison are guilty of the offenses they were convicted of. But of this we can be certain many are not. Even if it's only 1%, that means there are at least 1,500 innocent people in prison in Texas alone. More realistically, it's probably 5% to 10%, as many researchers believe. A 1996 US Department of Justice report even put the figure at possibly 10 %.

That means that probably 1 out of every 10 or 20 people who are euthanized in the death chamber in Huntsville are being cruelly and viciously murdered by the state of Texas for crimes they didn't commit. No one with any level of compassion for their fellow man can look the other way in the face of such overwhelming evidence that innocent people are being tortured to death.

Next time you read about a death row prisoner taking his last gasp on the gurney, just remember that he is at that moment probably feeling the most excruciating pain anyone can feel. It lasts for up to 7 minutes before he finally dies. Perhaps worst of all, his screams of pain go unheard - another evil effect of this dastardly chemical, pancuronium bromide.

Since they are cruelly prevented from doing so themselves, we must express the pain of the executed for them - especially the executed innocent.


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