States Improvise As Lethal Injection Drugs Run Scarce:

The decision by the Missouri Supreme Court to allow propofol, the same powerful anesthetic that caused the death of Michael Jackson, to be used in executions — coming at a time when Texas, Ohio, Arkansas and other states are scrambling to come up with a new drug for their own lethal injections — is raising new questions about how the death penalty will be carried out.

“The bottom line is no matter what drugs they come up with, despite every avenue these states have pursued, every drug they have investigated has met a dead end,” said Deborah Denno, a professor at Fordham Law School who studies execution methods and the death penalty. “This affects every single execution in the country. It just stalls everything, stalls the process.”

Hell, just Beat It.

With manufacturers now refusing to supply corrections departments with the drugs they had been using for executions, some states, like Georgia, have been resorting to obtaining drugs from unregulated compounding pharmacies — specialty drugmakers — which death penalty opponents say lack the proper quality control. Other states, as they run low on their old stock of drugs and are unable to replace them, are turning to new, untried methods like propofol or simply announcing that they are searching for a solution.

I realize this may sound Off the Wall, but if you want to read an excellent article on the lengths Georgia is going to obtain these drugs, and the extraordinary effort to keep it all a secret, read this.

On July 18, one day before he was scheduled to die, Warren Hill, a mentally disabled prisoner on Georgia’s death row, was spared from the execution chamber when a Fulton County Superior Court judge granted him a temporary reprieve.

It was not the first time that Hill, who has been diagnosed as having an IQ of 70, had faced imminent death. One year earlier, on July 23, 2012, Hill ate his last meal and said his final goodbyes as he prepared for an execution that was halted ninety minutes before he was supposed to die by lethal injection. Seven months after that, Hill came within thirty minutes of execution—he was sedated and strapped to the gurney—when a stay was granted. And on July 15 of this year, he was granted another temporary stay with less than four hours to spare, only for a new date to be set, for four days later. All told, in just under a year, Hill has come within hours of execution four times.

Smooth Criminal, eh? In fact, while much of Hill’s ongoing appeals focus on mental retardation, another line of appeals is zeroed in the constitutionality of Georgia’s Lethal Injection Secrecy Act, which is an actual thing the Georgia Legislature passed this past spring.

Under a new Georgia state law called the “Lethal Injection Secrecy Act,” the names of pharmacies that manufacture the chemicals used in lethal injections are now kept secret from the public.

Proponents of the law say it is there to protect the pharmaceutical manufacturers from protests and attacks. But at least one judge is questioning whether this new law is constitutional.

The proposed law, which Corrections officials sought, would make the identities of those who make and supply the lethal injection drug a “state secret,” which means Georgia would have the discretion to hide the information.

The proposed law also makes a state secret the names of prison staff who carry out executions. For decades, the Georgia has kept the names of security staff secret. It would now shield the names of private doctors the prison system hires to carry out executions.

Won’t see Behind The Mask anytime soon. Back in the old days, we just gave the executioner a hood. Now we give them “state secrecy” protection.

But don’t worry, the get tuff all types are fighting back (hey, the kid is not my son).

“This drug issue is a temporary problem that is entirely fixable. It is not a long-term impediment to the resumption of capital punishment. It’s an artificially created problem,” said Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, which supports the death penalty. “There is no difficulty in using a sedative such as pentobarbital. It’s done every day in animal shelters throughout the country. But what we have is a conspiracy to choke off capital punishment by limiting the availability of drugs.”

Shorter: pet tested, vet approved. You Wanna Be Starting Something, chump?

On Wednesday, the Missouri Supreme Court decided to allow executions using propofol to move ahead in October and November. There is no question that it would kill, but since it has never been used in an execution, death penalty opponents say, there is no way to say how much pain might be involved or what dose should be administered.

Well, if the dude springs up off the gurney, grabs his crotch and starts singing “You Rock My World, Mizzou” you’ll know it’s all good.

Funny how much Michael Jackson and these states scrambling for drugs like junkies came to mirror one another…Man in the Mirror, Dangerous…I could go on.

Cross Posted From The Power-Elite

So, the Pew Research Center produced a report today regarding what issues are considered moral issues by Americans, with the following paragraph:

“Regardless of their views about the legality of abortion, most Americans think that having an abortion is a moral issue. By contrast, the public is much less likely to see other issues involving human embryos – such as stem cell research or in vitro fertilization – as a matter of morality.”

Illustrated by the following chart:

Not surprisingly, views on these issues are related to religiosity:

I’m interested in this which, I think, gives the game away:

“However, a majority of those who think abortion is morally wrong consider embryonic stem cell research to be either morally acceptable (23%) or not a moral issue (29%).”

And they also do not object to IVF.

This basically that the whole “pro-life” thing is a sham. Opposition to abortion is not based on destroying life, or opponents to abortion would picket IVF clinics and places where stem-cell research takes place. So, what gives? Since these practices involve “destroying lives”, from their point of view, why would they consider one more morally objectionable than the others? It’s not a matter of embryonic development since the majority of abortions takes place in the first trimester.

Look again: abortion, IVF, stem cell research… only one involves a woman controlling her sexuality. That is what makes it objectionable to abortion opponents. Not IVF, which does destroy embryos. Not stem cell research, even though it involves using cells that have “potential for life”, as it is claimed. But neither IVF nor stem cell research involves the direct control of her sexuality by women. No, the big difference, and what makes abortion objectionable, is that abortion allows the sluts to avoid the punishment for their sluttitude… being stuck with a baby (and it deprives the deserving but infertile parents from a potential child), hence the related opposition to contraception (which does not destroy embryos).

Two Powerful Signals of a Major Shift on Crime:

Two decisions Monday, one by a federal judge in New York and the other by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., were powerful signals that the pendulum has swung away from the tough-on-crime policies of a generation ago. Those policies have been denounced as discriminatory and responsible for explosive growth in the prison population.

Critics have long contended that draconian mandatory minimum sentence laws for low-level drug offenses, as well as stop-and-frisk police policies that target higher-crime and minority neighborhoods, have a disproportionate impact on members of minority groups. On Monday, Mr. Holder announced that federal prosecutors would no longer invoke the sentencing laws, and a judge found that stop-and-frisk practices in New York were unconstitutional racial profiling.

Alfred Blumstein, a Carnegie Mellon professor who has studied race and incarceration issues, said Mr. Holder’s speech and Judge Scheindlin’s stop-and-frisk ruling both addressed policies that “were attempts to stop crime, but they weren’t terribly effective.”

Together, he said, the events indicated that society was “trying to become more effective and more targeted and, in the process, to reduce the heavy impact on particularly African-Americans.”

Michelle Alexander, an Ohio State University law professor who wrote “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” an influential 2010 book about the racial impact of policies like stop-and-frisk and mandatory minimum drug sentences, said the two developments gave her a sense of “cautious optimism.”

I prefer Alexander and Blumstein’s comments to some of the other overwrought proclamations regarding Holder’s speech and the ruling on Stop and Frisk (and yes, for those long-time readers wondering “do you still think Holder is the most inept AG ever?” the answer is yes).

Was it a good speech (and about 5 years too late)? Sure. The judge’s ruling was also a step in the right direction. But “historic” or “game-changing” or “ground breaking?” Shake yourself.

Why? Because Holder’s policy for ratcheting down the mandatory-minimum sentences affects only federal level prosecutions, convictions and incarceration. The federal system accounts for slightly more than 200,000 of the 2.2 million people behind bars. A reduction of even 10% in the federal system will barely even register in the national numbers.

Most of those incarcerated in the “War on Drugs” are incarcerated at the state and local level. Until they move away from the get tough policies (which some, admittedly, are doing) we won’t see a wholesale de-carceration take place for quite awhile.

The ruling against Stop and Frisk is also welcome. Stop and Frisk was a relic of the Guiliani era in NYC, part of the Wilson/Kelling/Bratton “Quality of Life” zero-tolerance policing which adherents claimed reduced crime in Gotham and elsewhere.

Of course, it had nothing to do with lowering crime, as critics have pointed out for over a decade, but it took Judge Scheindlin’s ruling to not only point that out, but perhaps begin putting nails in the coffin of the heavy handed police tactics which have been used to muscle and intimidate lower-income, disproportionately black residents of New York for nearly 20 years.

But if you think everyone’s on board (cautiously or deliriously), think again. The proponents of git tuff still exist and they will be heard.

William G. Otis, a former federal prosecutor and an adjunct professor at Georgetown Law School, described Mr. Holder’s move as a victory for drug dealers that would incentivize greater sales of addictive contraband, and he suggested that the stop-and-frisk ruling could be overturned on appeal.

Mr. Otis also warned that society was becoming “complacent” and forgetting that the drug and sentencing policies enacted over the last three decades had contributed to the falling crime rates.

And this, from my favorite group of conservatives over at Crime and Consequences:

 I will make no attempt to summarize the arguments on their merits.  I will just say very briefly that the AG’s action seems to take root in a jaundiced view of our criminal justice system, a system that, certainly in the view of its inmates, is a failure.

At a tiny fraction of the cost of entitlement programs, stern sentencing has helped drop the crime rate 50% in 20 years, thus contributing to thousands if not millions of crimes that were never committed, and thousands if not million of potential victims who were not abused, beaten up, molested, swindled and robbed.

May all our social policies be that “broken.”
For some, the fantasy that the get tough policies produced the drop in crime will never die, no matter what the overwhelming evidence shows to the contrary. And as I’ve warned for several years on this blog, all it will take is a slight uptick in crime nation-wide (more likely to occur as the economy turns around), and they will be bleating down your door with calls to return to the good old days of the lock ’em up 80’s and 90’s.
Meanwhile, to continue the good news of the day, and updating a story I’ve written about a few times, Whitey Bulger was convicted yesterday in Boston.
James (Whitey) Bulger, the mobster who terrorized South Boston in the 1970s and ‘80s, holding the city in his thrall even after he disappeared, was convicted Monday of a sweeping array of gangland crimes, including 11 murders. He faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison.
Looking back on it, Bulger’s defense erred by not invoking the Stand Your Ground laws of Florida and elsewhere. I mean, dude was just defending his territory, wasn’t he? Snicker.
Anyway, a good day over all for those of who study crime and punishment. Cautiously optimistic, indeed.
Cross Posted from The Power Elite

So I was playing around with Statwing on some basic suicide data and Statwing spat up two histograms.

The first one, for the US (interactive version here):

Suicide US Histogram

And the second one for 91 countries (interactive version here):

Suicide Global Histogram

So, why does the US one look kinda normal and the global one look right-tailed?

The US data come from the CDC, and the global data come from the World Health Organization.

This may be one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a long time.

As David Carr points out in the NYT, this kind of parody is usually only seen on Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert. To watch an actual MSNBC show and host mock itself is both refreshing and obviously troubling.

Following the shameful verdict in the Trayvon Martin case in Florida, cable news outlets were filled with angry white men discussing what “we” can do about the “black criminal culture” that is “so obvious” but that “no one will talk about.” Not only does the video parody this kind of knuckle-dragging thinking, it also changes labels and throws Wall Street crime under the same banner as “white” street crime.

That so many people watch cable news shows and assume what they’re hearing is the truth is not surprising. News (and reality, for that matter) has atomized along racial, ideological and political lines. If you’re liberal and Democratic, you go here, if you’re conservative and Republican you go there. If you’re white, you watch this, if you’re black you watch that. You get to hear exactly what you want, confirming every prejudice you already have, without any shred of disagreement in the process.

But are we really that polarized, politically anyway? Worth reading is this latest column (“The Stench From the Potomac”) by Frank Rich. From a meta analysis, he explains why the politics in D.C. isn’t broken or gridlocked or hopelessly dysfunctional. It is in fact, working extraordinarily well and in harmony, just as Mills envisaged 50 years ago under the rubric “the power-elite.”

The larger point being: the appearance of discord keeps the masses distracted. Whites scapegoat blacks, the poor stay at war with the middle class, men are from Mars women are from Venus, ad nauseum.

And while you’re pounding your fists, standing your ground, red-faced with “outrage” at this or that group, the power-elite picks your pocket and laughs all the way to bank.


Cross Posted to The Power Elite (fittingly enough)