by Max Brantley
Arkansas has joined states where condemned prisoners are challenging lethal injection as unconstitutionally cruel punishment. Terrick Nooner, sentenced to die for a 1993 murder in Pulaski County, filed a challenge to the procedure last week in federal court in Pine Bluff.
The complaint details the extended and sometimes gruesome events that have occurred in several past executions and, as in complaints in other states, questions whether drugs are administered in proper amounts to insure the condemned aren't suffering.
Botched executions involving unnecessary conscious suffering are the inevitable result of a protocol cobbled together in secret by people who are not qualified to conduct what is essentially the surgical induction of anesthesia. The ADC protocol is flawed at nearly every turn in that it 1) uses unqualified personnel to insert IV catheters; 2) uses dangerous and unnecessary drugs like neuromuscular blockers in a reckless manner; 3) fails to make sure that a surgical plane of anesthesia and an actual state of unconsciousness are achieved and continue for the duration of the execution before administering painful drugs; and 4) dispenses a dose of Thiopental that is unnecessarily dangerously low.
The consequence of the ADC protocol is that many people are suffering when they are executed in Arkansas.