Colorado Rights Blog

ACLU of Colorado By: ACLU of Colorado 4.3.2014

Watch Stephen Colbert skewer the mad scramble for “silent but deadly” executions

 

 

The struggle to find drugs to carry out lethal injection has made headlines all over the country and was recently featured on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report.

Pharmaceutical companies who make these drugs have started to ban their sale for executions, and states are scrambling to find alternatives, with many dangerous consequences.

An Oklahoma execution made the news when the prisoner’s last words, after being injected with one of the drugs, were “my whole body burns.”  In Ohio, it took over twenty minutes to kill an inmate, while he screamed and struggled on the execution table.

Now some states are turning to compound pharmacies and other questionable means for getting the drugs they need.  They are masking this practice in secrecy and lawsuits are popping up all over the country in search of public disclosure.

Last year in Colorado, when Nathan Dunlap was scheduled for execution, the ACLU of Colorado filed a lawsuit to determine the state’s planned lethal injection protocol, the drugs that prison officials intended to use, and where those drugs were coming from:

https://aclu-co.org/court-cases/aclu-v-colorado-department-of-corrections/

Thankfully, Governor Hickenlooper, expressing several concerns with Colorado’s broken death penalty system, halted the execution.

Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, prison officials were bartering for drugs with Texas by offering to help if they threw the OK vs. TX football game:

http://www.coloradoindependent.com/146553/oklahoma-scrambles-to-find-lethal-injections-for-two-imminent-executions

And now Oklahoma is planning to use secretly sourced experimental drugs, despite a court ruling against their use:

http://www.coloradoindependent.com/146830/oklahoma-to-use-secretly-sourced-experimental-lethal-injections-in-spite-of-court-ruling

The Huffington Post has an excellent infographic calling this the “New Costs of the Death Penalty”:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/02/lethal-injection-drugs_n_4979654.html

As the nation deals with this lethal injection drug shortage, it is a good time to take a step back and evaluate whether the death penalty should be used anymore.  It is costly, unfairly applied, there is chance that an innocent person may be executed and now, it is hard to even follow through with the punishment.

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  • Anthony Martinez is 84-years-old and suffering from renal failure, as well as other serious medical conditions including dementia. He is currently incarcerated in the Sterling Correctional Facility, site of one of Colorado’s largest COVID-19 outbreaks with almost 600 active COVID-19 cases. He and his family are understandably terrified that he will catch the virus and die.

    In the midst of this public health crisis, incarcerated people as vulnerable as Anthony, could and should be immediately released to safely live out their remaining years with family.

    Read more about Anthony Martinez and other at-risk incarcerated people. 

  • Ronald Johnson is pre-diabetic, suffers from asthma and high blood pressure, and regularly uses an inhaler to breathe. His age and respiratory ailments put him at risk of serious illness and death if he contracts COVID-19. With over hundreds of active cases in Colorado’s prisons, his family fears he will not make it out alive. His daughter, Amber, says, “In prison, he can’t protect himself and he can’t social distance. My deep fear is that my dad will die in prison. That is an awful, traumatic reality to consider. My chest is tight just thinking about how quickly it spreads and how vulnerable he is.”

    Governor Hickenlooper shortened his sentence following testimony from family, friends and correctional officers advocating for his early release. Yet, he is still eight years away from parole. While he remains in prison, COVID-19 continues to spread. Ronald’s three siblings, four children and four grandchildren are desperate for his release.

    Read more about Ronald Johnson and other at-risk incarcerated people.

  • Tuesday Olson knew her pregnancy was in trouble and tried to access hospital care as soon as possible. But there was a problem: she was in jail. This is her story.
  • It’s time to end the death penalty in Colorado. Family members who lost loved ones to murder speak out against an unjust and broken system.