Sunday, December 13, 2015

North Carolina Death Penalty Costs (2004)

Update: North Carolina Death Penalty Costs (2004) (1):
More Nonsense from Philip Cook

From Cook's more recent cost study (1).

1) Cook: " . . . the goal here is to estimate the hypothetical financial and in-kind consequences of abolishing the death penalty on July 1, 2004."

"Lacking a crystal ball, I make estimates for the recent past and offer the result as a best guess about the flow of savings in the future, with the proviso that there is considerable uncertainty around this steady-state assumption."

Sharp: "crystal ball" "estimates" "best guess" "uncertainty" "assumption" "to estimate the hypothetical". 

Let all that sink in. That's the "study".

Cook doesn't provide any "assumptions", "best guesses" and "hypotheticals" as to how North Carolina's death penalty can save money over life without parole (LWOP). He wouldn't.

Since 1976, Virginia has executed 111 of her murderers, 70% of those so sentenced, within 7 years of appeals, on average (2), a protocol that would save money over LWOP, in all jurisdictions.

Cook is aware but not interested. 

On death penalty issues, Cook appears to be an anti death penalty activist, who happens to be an academic.

2) Cook: "If the death penalty had been abolished on July 1, 2004, state government expenditures for processing murder cases would have fallen by $10.8 million per year." (pg 28).

Sharp: The $10.8 million "hypothetical estimate" cost savings of ending the death penalty would be $0.09 (9 cents) per month per North Carolinian.

9 cents per month   --    1/3 of a penny per day - $0.003/day

For some perspective, the cheapest cup of coffee at Starbucks is $1.75, or 525 times per day as expensive.

My hypothetical estimates are different than Cook's. 

The social and economic costs attributable to ending the death penalty are just too high.

Cook's latest study has many problems, as does his previous one (3).

3) Cook: "Note that the bottom line of this analysis rests on certain "assumptions" about how the relevant actors would respond to the abolition of the death penalty." pg 29 "The "estimates" of potential savings from abolition are developed here as follows." pg 3

Sharp: Cook has no clue as to those responses, for which he assumes and estimates.

4) Cook: "I assume that the number of courtrooms, judges, prosecutors, and support staff would not be affected by the abolition of the death penalty, nor would the budget of the NC Supreme Court." "The abolition of the death penalty would have other consequences that are unlikely to be reflected in agency budgets."  p8

Sharp: In fact, Cook cannot state that there will be any net reduction in the state budget, which would be attributable to elimination of the death penalty. 

Cook finds a cost savings of $0.003/day/North Carolinian  -  a "hypothetical estimate".

Can Cook tell us that his 
"hypothetical" end to the death penalty will not result in net additional costs to North Carolinians, as costs accrue, as:

a) defense specialists would turn their attention to fighting against LWOP, for which there is a well observed movement to end LWOP, a movement which mirrors the attack against the death penalty, as Cook well knows; and 

b) there will be no more plea bargains to LWOP, which, previously, saved the cost of trials and appeals, as Cook concedes; with 

c) all potential LWOP cases will now, all, have to go to trial, dramatically increasing total LWOP case costs, as Cook concedes,  and 

d) causing a huge social cost problem, whereby some cases that would have, previously, resulted in LWOP, will, now, be given life WITH parole, by either plea bargain or trial, as Cook concedes; and

e) the case that the death penalty/execution is an enhanced deterrent over LWOP is solid (7) and, therefore,  the reality of the social and monetary costs of more innocents being murdered far outweighs Cook's "hypothetical estimates" of saving money by ending the death penalty.

5) Cook: "Certainly, the debate in other states that have considered ending the death penalty has included a discussion of cost. That was true in the two states that actually did decide to abolish, New Jersey and New Mexico, and elsewhere. For example, the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment recommended abolition of the death penalty in 2008, arguing its conclusion in part on the cost study by the Urban Institute (Roman et al., 2008)."  pg 2-3

Sharp: This reflects on Cook's lack of fact checking and/or his anti death penalty bias.

New Mexico's Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) used Cook's previous, misleading study on costs in North Carolina, not New Mexico's costs. So it had no effect on any cost debate in New Mexico, as Cook's study actually showed that LWOP was more expensive than the death penalty . . . in North Carolina  . . .  not New Mexico (4). The LFC didn't fact check Cook's study.

The New Jersey Death Penalty Commission NJDPC) found "The costs of the death penalty are greater than the costs of life in prison without parole, but it is not possible to measure these costs with any degree of precision." (5).

The NJDPC never looked at LWOP costs so it is hard to imagine how they reached that conclusion. Regardless, there is no savings amount identified. Plus, NJDPC made the same obvious error as other studies have, that is stating that death row incarceration costs are higher than general population cells. Capital murderers are most likely going to be in increased security cells, not general population. There is no evidence they looked at the costs savings of plea bargains to LWOP parole.

The Urban Institute (Maryland) made significant accounting errors in their study, errors, which when fixed, may have revealed no increase in costs with the death penalty (6).

Cook was, somehow, unaware? Did he not fact check?



 The death penalty saves more innocent lives, in three ways, than does life without parole (LWOP) (7,8).

6) Cook:"There is reason to believe that some of those defendants would have pled out to a lesser offense—second-degree murder, say—if the district attorney had lacked the leverage provided by the death penalty."  pg 2

Sharp: Precisely. Put plainly, more murderers will be released, increasing the costs of additional harm to innocents.  Murderers and other anti death penalty folks, like Cook, may cheer, but I suspect most North Carolinians would happily spend an additional $0.003/day to keep murderers on death row or serving LWOP, as opposed to being released, a huge additional cost.

Sharp: Since 1973, there have been 14,000 - 28,000 actual innocents murdered by those known murderers that we allowed to murder, again - recidivist murderers (two different recidivism studies from different years) (7).

Obviously, the death penalty provides increased incapacitation protection over lesser sanctions, thereby protecting more innocent lives.

7) Cook: "(deterrence) was set aside on the grounds that there is no basis for predicting whether abolition of the death penalty would increase or reduce the murder rate, and good reason to believe that the effect in either direction would be small." pg 31

Sharp: Deterrence is not measured by murder or crime rates. If it was then we would conclude that no potential crimes were deterred in all other countries, simply because, for example, Iceland has the lowest crime and murder rates and, therefore, no criminals in all other countries were deterred by sanction, because all other countries had higher crime rates than Iceland. 

Absurd, of course.

Deterrence is measured by there being lower net crime rates  than there, otherwise, would be without sanction. For example, if we ended all sanctions, would crimes and the crime rates go up? No rational person has any doubts.

Cook is in error by asserting that there is no greater probability of deterrence.

The evidence that the death penalty.executions deter some is overwhelming (7,8).

The evidence that the death penalty/executions deter none does not exist (7,8).

Death is feared more than life. Life is preferred over death. What is feared more deters more. What is preferred more deters less.

It is not up to death penalty supporters to prove deterrence.  The evidence is on our side.

It is up to deterrence naysayers to prove that the death penalty/executions deter none, which they have never and can never establish.

All sanctions, all negative prospects and all negative incentives deter some, all truisms and all well known, with the death penalty/executions being the harshest sanction, the worst negative prospect and the greatest of negative incentives.

Cook also avoids the risk to innocents, if we are unsure about deterrence. There is no balance in the sparing of innocents.

If we are unconvinced and there is death penalty/execution deterrence and we don't execute, we sacrifice more innocents.

If unknowable, we must execute, if innocent lives matter.


Rebuttal to follow on these two:

Deterrences (Donohue and Wolfers, 2006a, 2006b). p 10-14

"Isaac Ehrlich’s research in this regard has received the most attention, motivating the creation of an expert panel of the National Academy of Sciences—whose report was skeptical of Ehrlich’s findings (Blumstein et al., 1978)." 13

1)  Potential Savings from Abolition of the Death Penalty in North Carolina, American Law and Economics Review (Advance Access) published December 11, 2009, Philip J. Cook, Duke University

2) See Virginia within
3) "Duke (North Carolina) Death Penalty Cost Study: Let's be honest"

4) New Mexico's Death Penalty Cost Study

see also

"DEAD WRONG: NJ Death Penalty Study Commission", Dudley Sharp, 2007,

7) The Death Penalty: Do Innocents Matter? A Review of All Innocence Issues

8) OF COURSE THE DEATH PENALTY DETERS: A review of the debate
99.7% of murderers tell us "Give me life, not execution"

New Mexico Death Penalty Costs

New Mexico Death Penalty Costs: Another Adventure Into Deception
Dudley Sharp

The anti death penalty folks just can't stop.

Not only did the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) fail to look at either their own death penalty or LWOP costs, instead, they used North Carolina's  misleading cost study (1), which had zero relevance to New Mexico, and the LFC failed to fact check that NC study, which actually found LWOP to be more expensive than the death penalty (1), the opposite of what the LFC stated.

Just another anti death penalty norm (2).

"Although a study has (never) been done in New Mexico on the total costs of a death penalty case to the state (including the prosecution, the public defender, and the extensive drain on court resources.), a recent Duke University study done on North Carolina’s costs found that the death penalty costs North Carolina $2.16 million dollars per execution over a system that imposes life imprisonment." (2)

Complete utter nonsense, of course.

The North Carolina study (1) found LWOP to be much more expensive than the death penalty.

 1)  "Duke (North Carolina) Death Penalty Cost Study: Let's be honest"

2) F I S C A L  I M P A C T  R E P O R T, HB 285, Abolish Death Penalty, Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) , New Mexico Legislature, 1/31/09,

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Nevada's Death Penalty Cost Study: How Bad Is It?

Nevada's Death Penalty Cost Study: How Bad Is It?
Dudley Sharp

This is a case study in state deception.

1)  a) The Nevada Study (1) only included one death penalty case that ended in execution, 11 years after sentencing.


11 additional executions, since 1977, were omitted, improperly and intentionally, from the study and any reference to them was not provided.


Because, had those 11 been included,  the death penalty would be found to be cheaper than life without parole (LWOP) cases.

It is an obvious way to fix the study for a desired outcome.

On average, those 11 executions occurred within 5 years after sentencing.

It gets even worse.


a) The Nevada Study wrongly included parole eligible cases, calling them all "non death penalty cases". 56% of the non death penalty cases were/are eligible for parole (2) (see notes, bottom of pg 11, footnote 1).


b) The only considered alternative to the death penalty is LWOP. Therefore, an equal consideration of LWOP and death penalty case costs, only, should be the measure (3).

Only those 44% of non death penalty cases, that were true LWOP cases, should have been included.

Parole eligible cases should have been excluded from the cost review. 

The parole eligible cases were included only to lower the non death penalty costs, improperly and intentionally, just as the improper and intentional exclusion of 11 death penalty cases were omitted to increase death penalty case costs.

Again, it is an obvious way to fix the study for a desired outcome.


3) Without the death penalty, the average LWOP case cost rises, probably substantially.

a) No plea bargains:

1) Without the death penalty, there can no longer be any plea bargains to LWOP. 

After death penalty repeal, LWOP can only be achieved with a full trial, adding to total LWOP costs, as well as the average cost per LWOP case, likely substantially, which must be added as additional costs for the LWOP side of the ledger, if death penalty repeal is considered.

No surprise, the Nevada cost study excluded this.

2) With more LWOP trials, there will be more cases that we result in life with parole eligibility, meaning that cases which, previously, would have gotten either the death penalty or LWOP, some will now get life with parole eligibility which, with some of these cases, would never have been so considered, before.

Because of the degree of horror in most of these cases, parole eligibility would be unthinkable, therefore making repeal of the death penalty a very poor choice, if not unthinkable. That just may be too much of a moral cost.

No surprise, the Nevada cost study excluded this.


With the death penalty, any plea bargains to LWOP accrue as a cost credit to the death penalty side of the ledger, as such pleas are only possible because of the death penalty. Such cost credit may include all or part of pre trial, trial and appeals costs for a LWOP case and such credit must be included in any death penalty vs LWOP cost study.

No surprise, the Nevada cost study excluded this.



Here is my suggested protocol for a death penalty vs LWOP cost review, with a detailed, apples to apples cost review (4).

I hope it may be helpful.


1) Fiscal Cost of the Death Penalty, PERFORMANCE AUDIT, State Of Nevada, 2014,%20LA14-25,%20Full.pdf

2) AUDIT HIGHLIGHTS (left hand of Summary page), under Purpose of Audit, Preface.

3) See California, first, and then others

Saving Costs with The Death Penalty

4) Death Penalty Costs vs Life Without Parole Costs: Study Protocol

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Petit: Justice, Death Penalty & the Murders of My Wife & Children

Justice, The Death Penalty & the Murders of My Wife and Children
William Petit

Justice, The Death Penalty & the Murders of My Wife and Children
Dr. William Petit

During a home invasion in 2007, my wife Jennifer was strangled while my daughters Hayley 17 and Michaela 11 were tied to their beds, they and the house were doused with gasoline by the two murderers and then set afire.

For certain murders and other crimes there is no penalty that will serve justice other than the death penalty. It transcends national borders, races and cultures. It is the appropriate societal response to the brutal, willful act of murder (the illegal taking of another’s life).

The issue here is not revenge. Nor is it any of the other arguments that the anti-death penalty abolitionists use as tactics to take the focus away from the critical issue. Their main concern appears to be the protection of criminals and saving money.

The issue is, quite simply, retributive justice, not revenge but appropriate retribution. It appears clear to me that what is right and moral never appear to be part of their arguments.

When a family member is murdered it destroys a portion of our society. Those murdered can never grow and contribute to humankind. The realization of their potential can never be achieved. Those who knew them can never hold them, spend time with them, and see what they would add to their family's lives and society in general.

Interestingly, an argument made by many of the abolitionists is that life in prison without the possibility of parole (LWOP) is a "worse" punishment than death. If they are so magnanimous, why are they opting for a punishment that is worse, i.e., LWOP instead of the DP? Why? Because they are lying.

Many who have life in prison are able to read books, exercise, play softball, go to the commissary etc. LWOP provides inadequate retribution/punishment. In addition, the Governor can commute the sentence or the legislature can change the law or the legislature can decide that they no longer want to pay for those serving LWOP sentences-thus I am very doubtful that in the modern era LWOP will truly remain LWOP (even though I feel it is a side issue and misses the key point of retributive justice.).

The problem with many legislatures is just that – themselves. They never take the time to truly study the issue nor read the details of the studies done. They re-use the same incorrect statistics and lies that the abolitionists have used for years.

The essence of the DP for a heinous murder, be it the murder of a child, a murder during a rape or kidnapping or other circumstances is that it provides retributive justice for the victims and society. This is the main reason and the only reason that I feel is necessary to utilize this punishment in our society.

I believe it is also the ultimate deterrent-that murderer will never murder again. I also believe that more studies show it to truly be a deterrent than not. The death penalty is used in more countries than countries that do not have it. It has been part of sanctions espoused by many religions and societies for thousands of years. Somehow the abolitionists feel that in the past century they have somehow accrued more moral wisdom than those who protected societies for all those many years.

If there is no death penalty we will also begin to see a move afoot to lessen the sentences of those serving LWOP. Plea bargaining will begin with LWOP and necessarily other punishments will be lesser. This is not a far-fetched notion as it's now being discussed in other states for the sole purpose of "saving money".

The legislators want to take years to allow the killers to utilize our resources when these animals have broken a sacrosanct law of our society - the respect for innocent human life. 

Once you have broken this rule you have forfeited your right to live among us. There is only one way to lose that privilege. And that is to willfully and unlawfully take another person's life (MURDER).

The death penalty is lawful execution.

Many legislatures do their best to make it nearly impossible to implement the DP and then tell us "it doesn't work-we should abolish it". It doesn't work because many of them have stood in the way of meaningful reform for the past 20 years. Judiciary Committees and the 

Public defender's offices seem to have little interest in victims.

According to calculations from Dudley Sharp there have been approximately 400,000* innocents murdered by criminals under the government supervision in parole, probation and/or other early releases between 1973-2015* (calculations available upon request). Yet the abolitionists main worry is that there may be ONE person executed in error. They have looked for 110 years and have not yet been able to find a case where they can prove a truly innocent criminal was executed. They worry about the theoretical ONE yet care not one bit for the 400,000* persons murdered by those previously convicted and released or the nearly 28,000 innocents who were murdered by those we allowed to murder, again - repeat murderers.

Certainly, not all of those innocents could have been saved, but some portion of them might have been saved if the death penalty was used for the most depraved and heinous cases.

Do you see a trend?

The story tells the tale of who the Judiciary committees and the legislatures in general support. Sadly, it seems to be the criminals. There are many convicts on death row that should have been executed years ago. Judiciary committees and the legislatures in general, have had years to revamp the appeals system.  They continue to allow defendants to appeal repeatedly, even when it is clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are guilty. One 

Connecticut judge recently lamented that a particular convict was on his 33rd habeas appeal.

This denial of justice not only continues to victimize the victims' families, but is also a huge waste of taxpayers’ money. The state of Virginia has a just and fiscally responsible system. 

The first direct appeal of those sentenced to death should be an expedited appeal to the State Supreme Court. The State and Federal habeas corpus appeals should then next be filed simultaneously and within 30 days of the denial of the expedited direct appeal. Once the convicted murderer has had 4-5 chances (guilt versus innocence, sentencing phase, direct appeal, 2 habeas appeals), the case should be over unless new evidence is found.

Who suffers? Who loses in this charade of justice where there are unlimited and unreasonable appeals?? You guessed it-the victims. Where is the justice? Where is the legislatures’s sense of right and wrong? Clearly their sensibilities have been warped-they no longer truly believe in justice. These violent criminals have been tried by a jury of their peers and found guilty. In addition they have had multiple chances at appeal.

The defense wants it both ways. They claim to require up to five years to "prepare" for a death penalty case. No small irony here because the most common cause for appeal is "inadequate defense". This wastes hundreds of thousands of dollars if not millions. They have no concern for the victims nor for the thousands of dollars that they will waste. These are often heinous murderers who have forfeited their rights to continue to live among us. I suspect many murder victims and their families would like the legislature to provide a magical mechanism for them to delay the cruel and heinous murders of our loved ones-but these legislators seem far more interested in the murderers than the law-abiding citizens of the state.

All the polls I have seen show that a majority of citizens of the state and the nation for the past 20 years consistently favor the death penalty and yet these legislators feel that they are wiser than all the societies that have existed for tens of thousands of years that used the death penalty as the ultimate penalty. It always was and always will be a deterrent for one simple reason. The executed person can never kill again. 

In summary, all I can say is that it is a very sad day to be a citizen in the United States as we are represented by people who do not have the courage to stand up for what is right and just. 

I am angered by their misguided philosophies and misuse of data. Lack of a death penalty will lead to a weakening of the very fabric of our society and will deny the appropriate retributive justice due to the victims of violent crimes and their families. Do not believe it when these legislators say they repealed the death penalty for the victims' sake - or for society for that matter. They did it for themselves and their inability to make a difficult decision to stand up for what is right and just. The death penalty represents hatred of the evil represented by heinous murders and is an appropriate and just sanction.

Sincerely,   William A. Petit Jr. MD


NOTE: Dr. Petit left out that both his wife and 11 year old daughter, Michaela, were sexually assaulted, prior to their murders. He gave me permission to add this. Dudley Sharp

* updated by Sharp, with permission from Petit


Use GoodSearch for The Petit Family Foundation (Search engine and shopping)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Death Penalty & Medical Ethics Revisited

The Death Penalty & Medical Ethics Revisited
Dudley Sharp, updated 5/2016

Some have undertaken an ill advised or dishonest effort to show that medical ethics require medical professionals to shun the death penalty and that some countries and pharmaceutical companies are so concerned about their moral duty that no medical products should be used in executions.

It is an, utterly, false narrative.

Anti-Death Penalty Activism

From the Glossip v Gross case, recently (2015) decided by the US Supreme Court:

"[I]s it appropriate," Justice Alito asked, "for the judiciary to countenance what amounts to a guerrilla  war against the death penalty, which consists of efforts to make it impossible for the states to obtain drugs that could be used to carry out capital punishment with little, if any, pain?"

"States are resorting to the less effective midazolam, Justice Scalia added, "Because the abolitionists have rendered it impossible to get the 100 percent-sure drugs."

Who are these anti death penalty, guerrilla warfare folks?


Reprieve, an anti-death penalty group, based in England, began a public campaign against these pharmaceutical companies in Sept/Oct 2009 (1), as well as lobbying efforts with European governments (1&2); at such time those companies and countries started a movement to prevent the drugs from getting to the US.

Reprieve's less public efforts may have begun earlier.


"Reprieve . . . has led the campaign to stop European companies from selling lethal injection drugs to the United States." (2)

"Reprieve filed a lawsuit to ban the exportation of thiopental for use in executions. The British government responded that the death penalty states would simply buy it elsewhere. But shortly after, the government effectively prohibited the export as Reprieve had requested." (2)


"The state of Texas' (lethal injection) drug cache is already dangerously low . . . largely because the compounding pharmacies that make lethal injection drugs fear threats of violence if they are identified." "Many of these vendors who supply these doses to the state have refused to do it any further. It's just not worth the risk of violence." (3)

All death penalty states have either passed laws or are looking at passing laws that allow them to keep their lethal injection suppliers confidential, in order to avoid threats and the risk of violence and/or are seeking alternate methods (4).

Reprieve, as others, are the abolitionists mentioned by the Justices.


The drug companies were invisible and speechless, from 1977, when the lethal injection protocols were, publicly, adopted by Oklahoma, and from 1982, when they were first used for executions, in Texas, until 2009 - 32 years and 27 years later, respectively. 

Why did the moral outrage take 27-39 years to surface? 

Anti-death penalty folks didn't, publicly, criticize the drug companies (and their countries of origin), until 2009.  Of course, the drug companies and their countries of origin were well aware of the lethal injection use of drugs from 1977, but were not embarrassed, publicly, until 2009.

The response is PR, not ethical.

Do MORE Harm: The Anti Death Penalty Solution

After pharmaceutical company, Hospira, announced its decision, ending thiopental production, the American Society of Anesthesiologists stated that they were "extremely troubled" by Hospira's decision and criticized the anti-death-penalty movement for "using" thiopental supplies to make a point (5).

The doctors noted the "unfortunate irony that many more lives will be lost or put in jeopardy as a result of not having the drug available for its legitimate medical use." (5), in direct violation of the Hippocratic Oath and the "do no harm" directive.

" . . . European restrictions on thiopental might be justifiable if they save a lot of lives on Death Row. They probably won't." ". . . substitutes for thiopental as an execution drug are readily available." (5)

No murderers lives will be spared in exchange for greater risk to innocent patients - a clear violation of the Hippocratic Oath and the "do no harm" directive.

The drug companies are well aware.

Because of these restrictions, the state of Missouri had planned to use propofol for executions, which no one doubted would result in a quick, painless death.

The European manufacturer stated that they would withhold that drug from the US if propofol were used in executions, thus denying its use, estimated at 50 million uses per year in the US (6).

Missouri Governor Nixon was much more concerned about those innocent patients and how their lives and suffering would be additionally threatened and increased, respectively, by the withholding of that drug. Therefore, he ordered the drug not be used, because he was certain that the drug manufacturer would increase the harm and suffering to all those patients, by withholding that drug (6), if he allowed propofol to be used.

Drug manufacturers in Europe are so against uncomfortable publicity that they would, knowingly, put more innocent patients at risk, by withholding their drugs from the US, while US Governors would reject putting those innocent patients more at risk.

It is obvious who is more concerned with the Hippocratic Oath and the "do no harm" directive - the Governor.

As Charles Lane of the Washington Post observed: "What we have here is not a serious, effective protest, but an exercise in feel-good politics that puts innocent people at risk." (5).


" . . . in 1995, a report in JAMA said that, "Over a million patients are injured in U.S. hospitals each year, and approximately 280,000 die annually as a result of these injuries."  (9a).

Based upon 2008-2011 US data, " . . . the true number of premature deaths associated with preventable harm to patients was estimated at more than 400,000 per year. Serious harm seems to be 10- to 20-fold more common (4-8 million) than lethal harm. (9b)

As a result, the drug companies have suspended their drug distributions to the hospitals/doctors with the highest rates of innocent patient harm and deaths via drug/prescription errors   . . .

 . . . well no, not really, of course.

Innocents are more at risk when we fail to use the death penalty (10).

"Do no harm"? Really?

The drug companies, now, say that restricting lethal injection drugs is based upon ethical considerations. But, history tells us it is a pr issue.  As detailed, those companies prefer the result of injuring more innocent patients in exchange for restricting their drugs, which will delay, but not stop, the execution of guilty murderers.

Even without the huge ethics time gap, how could such a known outcome be described as either ethical or moral?

THE ETHICS OF LYING - The Hippocratic Oath

There has been a lot of ink used to review the long standing medical professions ethical prohibitions against the death penalty.

There is no such prohibition.

Some in the medical community have fabricated an ethical prohibition against medical professionals' involvement in state executions by invoking the famous "do no harm" credo and the Hippocratic Oath.

It is a dishonest effort.

Some have proclaimed that "First do no harm" is a centuries old foundation of medical ethics, weighing against death penalty participation.


It is an anti-death penalty fraud that "do no harm" is in the context of the state execution of murderers (8).

Neither the Hippocratic Oath nor "do no harm" have anything to do with executions (8).

Both are, solely, concerned with the medical profession and patients.

" 'do no harm' (a phrase translated into Latin as "Primum nonnocere") is often mistakenly ascribed to the (Hippocratic) oath, although it appears nowhere in that venerable pledge.(8)"

"Hippocrates came closest to issuing this directive in his treatise Epidemics, in an axiom that reads, 'As to disease, make a habit of two things - to help, or at least, to do no harm.'  (8)"

"As to disease" Nothing else.

There is no relevance outside medicine and, most certainly, no prohibition against medical professionals participation in the state execution of murderers.

The effort to ban medical professionals' participation in executions is an unethical effort to fabricate professional ethical standards, based upon personal anti-death penalty activism, from those whose professions are medically related.

From Dr. Robert Truog, MD, Professor of Medical Ethics, Harvard Medical School:

"If I think of the kind of a hypothetical where you have an inmate who is about to be executed and knows that this execution may involve excruciating suffering, that inmate requests the involvement of a physician, because he knows that the physician can prevent that suffering from occurring, and if there is a physician who is willing to do that, and we know from surveys that many are, I honestly can't think of any principle of medical ethics that would say that that is an unethical thing for the physician to do." (11)

Physician & Drug Co. Hypocrisy:
The classic Hippocratic Oath & Its Brother, the Hypocrisy Oath

Hippocratic Oath: "I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art." (8)

This is a prohibition against euthanasia and abortion (8) and has nothing to do with the fabricated medical prohibition of participation in state sanctioned executions.

Do those alleged anti-death penalty drug companies and countries fight against any drugs being used in abortions and/or euthanasia?

Of course not.

Do those anti-death penalty physicians and medical associations promise license revocation if any of their members participate in euthanasia or abortion?

Of course not.

In fact, we have Belgium approving the assisted suicides of children, of any age, with participation by physicians (7).

For those countries and drug companies, the Hippocratic Oath has become the Hypocrisy Oath.

Many of those countries, pharmaceutical companies and medical professionals fully accept and participate in both abortion and euthanasia.

They, totally, negate the true ethical prohibitions that exist in a medical, historical context.

Instead, they just invent new ones, against the death penalty and for child suicide, while showing contempt for the true prohibitions, ushering in the newly renamed and truthful - Hypocrisy Oath.

Is there anyone unaware that the lethal injection executions of murderers are a criminal justice/corrections sanction and that it is not a medical procedure with patients?

No . . . unless they have a well-developed sense of dishonest imagination.

The few legal reviews of this topic have found as reason and fact require:

"Other courts have addressed (physicians participating in executions) and found that it does not violate the physician's code of ethics to participate in an execution . . ." "The Court... does not find that Missouri physicians who are involved in administering the lethal injections are violating their ethical obligations . .  ." (Taylor v. Crawford, Jan. 31, 2006, Court Order issued by the US Western District Court of Missouri)

Let's look at some additional sensible reviews:

The editors of The Public Library of Science (PLoS) Medicine write:

"Execution by lethal injection, even if it uses tools of intensive care such as intravenous tubing and beeping heart monitors, has the same relationship to medicine that an executioner's axe has to surgery." ("Lethal Injection Is Not Humane", PLoS, 4/24/07).

Exactly, none, at all.

So to, The American Society of Anesthesiologists:

"Although lethal injection mimics certain technical aspects of the practice of anesthesia, capital punishment in any form is not the practice of medicine. ("Statement on Physician Nonparticipation in Legally Authorized Executions," 10/18/06).

Both confirm the obvious: The state execution of murderers has no connection, ethically or otherwise, to the medical treatment of patients.

Rationally, there is no ethical nor moral connection, Some folks just want to fabricate a false narrative. So that's what they do - just another anti-death penalty fraud.

Alternatives: Drugs and Methods

Currently, the best lethal injection protocol appears to be using one drug, Pentobarbital, with some 11 US states having that protocol or announcing an effort to adopt it and it is also in use for legally assisted suicides in Oregon and Washington.

Will death penalty jurisdictions abandon lethal injection? They might . . . and, likely, should.

The constant badgering, by anti-death penalty activists, against chemical suppliers and/or compounding pharmacists might simply wear folks down. No one likes constant harassment.

 . . . or a reliable pharmacy, unaffected by threats of violence, may turn up.

It is a mystery, why state corrections pharmacies don't compound the drugs, themselves.

Nitrogen Gas

Well known by the euthanasia community, nitrogen gas is a pain free, inexhaustible source for those wishing to take their own lives and is the ideal solution for executions (12). Oklahoma has already adopted it as an alternate method of execution, as have others.

It has every advantage over lethal injection (12).

That will go well, until anti-death penalty activists start harassing nature for her production of nitrogen and some in the medical community will, again, voice their opposition to participation in executions, while we have the approved ethics of assisted suicides for children, of any age, assisted by physicians, from the EU progressively enlightened Belgium Parliament (7).

1) The earliest public involvement of Reprieve into stopping executions drugs into the US appears to be in Sept/Oct 2009 and, likely, sooner, privately.

2) "Drug Company in Cross Hairs of Death Penalty Opponents", New York Times, MARCH 30, 2011

3) "Lawmaker Says Death Penalty in Jeopardy", by Terri Langford, The Texas Tribune, April 15, 2015

4) Lots of articles, do a search "death penalty" "secrecy laws"

5) "Europe's dangerous death penalty gesture", By Charles Lane, Washington Post, 02/ 1/2011

6) "Missouri governor postpones execution over questions about lethal injection drug", By Jeremy Kohler, St. Louis Today, October 12, 2013.

7)  "What Belgium's child euthanasia law means for America and the Constitution", Eugene Kontorovich, Washington Post, February 13, 2014

8) Physicians & The State Execution of Murderers: No Medical Ethics Dilemma

9) a)  I used 1995, as it was about halfway between 1976, when new death penalty statutes gained US Supreme Court approval, within Gregg v Georgia, and 2015. Bates DW, Cullen DJ, Laird N, Petersen LA, Small SD, Servi D, Laffel G, Sweitzer BJ, Shea BF, Hallisey R, et al. Incidence of adverse drug events and potential adverse drug events. Implications for prevention. ADE Prevention Study Group. JAMA. 1995 Jul 5;274(1):29-34. taken from  DEATH BY MEDICINE, Section THE FIRST IATROGENIC STUDY, By Gary Null PhD, Carolyn Dean MD ND, Martin Feldman MD, Debora Rasio MD, Dorothy Smith PhD, 2003,

   b)  A New, Evidence-based Estimate of Patient Harms Associated with Hospital Care
James, John T. PhD, Journal of Patient Safety, September 2013 - Volume 9 - Issue 3 - p 122–128,

10)  The Death Penalty: Do Innocents Matter? A Review of All Innocence Issues

11) New England Journal of Medicine interview titled "Perspective Roundtable: Physicians and Execution", Jan. 18, 2008

12)  Nitrogen Gas; Flawless, peaceful, unrestricted method of execution