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

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Courts, states put death penalty on life support

Dudley Sharp

Last edited 11/3/2016 

USA Today: Another Major Media Anti Death Penalty Manifesto

To: Editorial Board, Editors, Columnists, crime reporters
       USA Today and many others

RE: How bad is  "Courts, states put death penalty on life support", Richard Wolf and Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY, 9/14/2015

From: Dudley Sharp

CC: Ethics Committee & Board of Directors
       Society of Professional Journalists
       All Professors, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass 

and many others

If you like one sided news pieces, no thinking outside the anti death penalty box and rare fact checking, you have your perfect storm.

Anti death penalty folks couldn't have bought this kind of support.

1)  USA Today: "Of all the arguments against capital punishment, none is as powerful as the risk of executing the innocent. Yet research shows about 4% of prisoners sentenced to death are just that."

REBUTTAL: Complete utter nonsense.

The 4% innocent is based upon a well known, erroneous database, created by  an anti death penalty group, The Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) which, depending upon various reviews,  is 70-83% in error with their  "innocence" claims, which are based upon redefining both "innocent" and "exonerated", as if they had redefined lie as truth and, then,  stuffed a bunch of cases into those fraudulent definitions (1a&b).

This has been very well known, since 2000.

I am unaware of any reporter, who has reported on the death penalty, frequently, who is not aware of this. 

The media is "all in" on this deception, with few exception. All you have to do is ask.

The DPIC will tell you that their "exoneration" and "innocent" released from death row have nothing to do with actual innocence. Simple fact checking confirms this. Took me 5 minutes to, originally, confirm this.

There is no poof of an innocent executed in the US, at least since the 1930s. Since 1973, 16,000 innocents have been murdered by those known murderers that we have allowed to murder, again - recidivist murderers (2).

Where are the innocents most at risk? When we allow murderers to live. USAT missed it?

Innocents are better protected, in three ways, by the death penalty than by Life Without Parole (LWOP) (2).

USAT needs some sense of reality, proportion and balance. Fact checking would help, as well. Journalism 101? 

2) USA Today: "Prosecutors, judges and juries also are being influenced by capital punishment's myriad afflictions: racial and ethnic discrimination, geographic disparities -- "with half of (death sentences) coming in just 2% of the nation's counties." --  (and) decades spent on death row and glaring mistakes that have exonerated 155 prisoners in the last 42 years."

REBUTTAL to all USAT points:


Did USAT consider that half the capital murders/executions might occur in only 2% of the nations death penalty counties (3)?

Although an obvious place to start, as well as confirmed reality (3), it appears USAT avoided the obvious.

The majority of death sentences come from where the capital murders are committed, as one would expect (3) - USAT missed it? - and, secondarily, seeking death is based upon prosecutorial discretion, as with all cases.


The "exoneration" claims have been a well known fraud, for at least 15 years, as anyone who fact checks is aware  (see review in P1 and fn 1a&b).  Depending upon review, from 26-46 death row inmates may have had solid evidence of actual innocence --  0.4% of those so sentenced -- and were, then, released from death row, since 1976 (1b). A remarkable record of accuracy.


"White murderers are twice as likely to be executed as are black murderers (4).

56% of those executed are white, 35% black (4).

From 1977-2012, white death row murderers have been executed at a rate 41% higher than are black death row murderers, 19.3% vs 13.7%, respectively. ( Table 12, Executions and other dispositions of inmates sentenced to death, by race and Hispanic origin, 1977–2012, Capital Punishment 2012, Bureau of Justice Statistics, last edited 11/3/14)

For the White–Black comparisons, the Black level is 12.7 times greater than the White level for homicide, 15.6 times greater for robbery, 6.7 times greater for rape, and 4.5 times greater for aggravated assault (4).
For the Hispanic- White comparison, the Hispanic level is 4.0 times greater than the White level for homicide, 3.8 times greater for robbery, 2.8 times greater for rape, and 2.3 times greater for aggravated assault (4).
For the Hispanic–Black comparison, the Black level is 3.1 times greater than the Hispanic level for homicide, 4.1 times greater for robbery, 2.4 times greater for rape, and 1.9 times greater for aggravated assault (4).
As robbery/murder is, by far, the most common death penalty eligible murder, the multiples will be even greater

Much more in fn 4.


The "afflictions" are, often, little fact checking and a one sided presentations by the media, as demonstrated.

3) USA Today: "The emotional and financial toll of prosecuting a single capital case to its conclusion, along with the increased availability of life without parole and continuing court challenges to execution methods, have made the ultimate punishment more elusive than at any time since its reinstatement in 1976" " . . . death sentences dropped from a high of 315 in 1996 to 73 last year."

"The number of executions peaked at 98 in 1999 and has dropped since then, hitting a low of 35 last year. In the first eight months of this year, 20 prisoners have been killed — 16 of them in Texas and Missouri."

REBUTTAL: More elusive? True, but not for the reasons given by USAT.

Obvious facts elude USAT.


Any additional "elusiveness" of the death penalty is based upon the reductions in murders and, even more so, on a even greater reduction in capital murders, the obvious first option to check and something USAT never even considered --  the most obvious was the most elusive  . . .  for USAT- fewer capital murders equals fewer death sentences. USAT missed it?

The US has had double digit executions, annually, from 1984 - 2014 (5) . Murders are, now, at a 46 year low (6). Murder rates are, now, at a 57 year low (6). It's not surprising that death sentences are at a 41 year low (5) -  "more elusive", of course.

In the US, from 1991-2013, there was 43% drop in murders  (a 54% drop in murder rates), a 25% drop in rapes  (a 40% drop in rate) and a 50% drop in  robberies  (a 60% drop in rate) (6). As rape/murders, robbery/murders are the most common death penalty eligible crimes, those, likely, dropped from 60-80%, nationally, accounting for the vast majority of the drop in death sentences.

Based upon new case law and state death penalty repeals, such would, likely, account for about a 12% reduction in death sentences, bringing the 315 down to 277 (8).

So what is the explanation for the 74% drop to 73 from 277?

With about a 60-80%  drop in capital murders (murders/rapes/robberies 1994-2013) (6)  plus additional reductions for other reasons,  such as LWOP, up front costs, as others, all contributing to prosecutorial frustration/discretion, as a rule all caused or affected by  . . . 


Judges are the case managers, at pre trial, trial and on appeals - they are in control of both time and costs, some with responsibility others with complete abandon.

Because of judicial roadblocks and delays -  judges decide on timing and costs - prosecutors may just get fed up, choosing to avoid the death penalty, seek a LWOP trial instead, or, better, a plea to LWOP, avoiding the huge costs and countless delays imposed by many judges in death penalty cases, at pretrial, in trial and within appeals.

USAT missed that such was Josh Marquis' point.

In states like California, Kansas and Pennsylvania, judges are, very openly, killing the death penalty, as in New Jersey and Connecticut.

For example, in the modern era, post Gregg v Georgia (1976):

Virginia executed her first 111 murderers within 7.1 years, on average (9), has executed 72% of those sent to death row and has an 11% overturning rate in appeals (7). Virginia's latest execution, 10/1/2015, occurred after 5 years of appeals.

Pennsylvania has executed only 3 of the 417 sentenced to death, or 0.7%, and has a 45% overturning rate in appeals (7), likely to become 90%, if the judges will allow appeals to end. Why?

Pa judges will only allow executions when the murderer "volunteers" and waives appeals, whereas Virginia judges are responsible and respect the law.  USAT missed it?Pa judges are obstructionists to the law, a common and obvious problem in many jurisdictions.

". . .  in California, appeals attorneys are not appointed (by judges) for three to five years. (Those attorneys, then, allowed by judges) to take four years to learn the case and file their appeal. Attorneys for habeas appeal (through the federal courts) are not appointed (by the judges), on average, until eight to 10 years after the death sentence." Three Major Steps to Reduce Death Penalty Delay in California, Crime and Consequences blog, Bill Otis, August 8, 2015,

Judges have, intentionally, destroyed the California system. It could not be more obvious.

For many, the judicial problems are just too much.

USAT, completely, missed the judicial component, which is huge.


C.1. Fewer death sentences will equal fewer execution and . . .

Since 2006, executions have been affected by litigation related to the lethal injection method, as well as drug shortages, within that method,  resulting in a  "slowdown" of executions averaging 43 per year (2007-2013) (5).

It is very rare to have executions over 60 per year, which has only occurred 7 times (1997-2013),  or 18% of execution years (5).

Excluding those exceptions, the average is 27 executions per year (1977-1996, 2004-2013) and, if starting with double digit executions in 1984, the average is 36 executions per year (5).

The "slowdown" period has averaged 43 executions/year and could get down to a 27-36 average, within the next 5 years, if the actual execution problems are not corrected.


Executions are, undoubtedly, much fewer than they would otherwise be, because the time between sentencing and executions has risen by 128%,  from 6.6 years, the average time from 1984-1988, when double digit executions began, to 15 years, the average time from 2009-2013 (11).

This is the fault of the judges, again, and is an intended killer of the death penalty, as virtually every hearing on the death penalty attests and might be the greatest reducer of executions, but was, completely,  . . .  missed by USAT.

In 1996, the US Congress passed the Anti terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), part of which was supposed to quicken death penalty appeals.

Every year since then, the average time of appeals, until execution, has been  greater than in 1996 (10.4 years), with the longest being 16.5 years, (2011) (11).

Apparently, judges didn't like the AEDPA . The judicial move against the death penalty became even more obvious.

USAT missed it? Of course.


Until jurisdictions change the method of execution, they will continue to have problems, brought on by anti death groups (17) pressuring those manufacturers to deny the best drugs for pain free executions to the US (17), thereby applying more risk to the inmates and delaying, but not stopping, any executions (17).

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." (18).


It appears the best replacement is nitrogen gas - it cannot be withheld, is easily accessible, peaceful and euphoric, very easy to administer - just an oxygen mask and a tank of gas, just turn the knob (17).

4) USA Today: "Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer said "From a defendant's perspective, to receive that sentence, and certainly to find it implemented, is the equivalent of being struck by lightning." "The imposition and implementation of the death penalty seems capricious, random, indeed arbitrary,'' "The Eighth Amendment forbids punishments that are cruel and unusual" "In the last two decades, the imposition and implementation of the death penalty have increasingly become unusual."

"Just last month, Connecticut's Supreme Court struck down the death penalty for prisoners already convicted of their crimes, going beyond the legislature's prospective repeal."

A. Rebuttal to Breyer:

Here is his "equivalent":

The chances of being struck by lightning in the US, within 11 years, is 1 in 63,636. The chances of being executed in the US, within 11 years of a death sentence, is 1 in 6.

When is a 10,000 times difference "Equivalent"? Breyer's ridiculous hyperbole.

Least arbitrary and capricious

Of all criminal cases, the death penalty has 1) the greatest restrictions on its application; 2) the greatest due process protections in pre trial, at trial, in appeals and 3) the greatest consideration in executive clemency and commutations, meaning, of course, that the death penalty must be . . .  the least arbitrary and capricious of all criminal sanctions.

Pretty obvious.  USAT missed it?

The unusual nature of the death penalty is based within it's extremely small application, the difficulties, costs and delays, many, intentionally, caused by judges, to undermine the death penalty and a huge reduction in capital murders over the last two decades, none of which Breyer discussed as the cause for the "unusual".  USAT missed it, too.

B. REBUTTAL to Ct Supreme Court:

Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers, one of three dissenters wrote that "every step" of the majority's opinion was "fundamentally flawed." "The majority's determination that the death penalty is unconstitutional under our state's constitution is based on a house of cards, falling under the slightest breath of scrutiny."

As it was.

All reflecting how poor the reasoning is with many of the anti death penalty justices.

USAT never even considered those points, as  USAT only pushes the anti death penalty message.

5) USA TODAY: "In Colorado last month, jurors couldn't agree on the death penalty for James Holmes, who (murdered) 12 . . . :" "Their indecision resulted in an automatic sentence of life without parole."

Rebuttal:  Indecision? Hardly. It was very decisive, by any measure.

11 jurors (92%) voted for death and only 1 (8%) voted for life (12)  -  a very decisive vote and also, by far, the most anti democratic result within the US, with the vast minority ruling over the vast majority.

Possibly, in respecting democratic principles, as opposed to undermining them, a majority vote should rule the sentence.

6) USA Today: "A California study in 2008 found the state spent $137 million annually to support the death penalty but would spend only $11.5 million if it was repealed."

Rebuttal. Impossible and complete utter nonsense.

Did USAT fact check? Guess.

The $11.5 million means that California would only be spending $15,000/yr/inmate.


The average cost per inmate per year, in Ca, for 2007-2008, was $49,000/yr. (9).

With confirmed California Corrections cost increases, that will, likely, be over $65,000/inmate/yr, on average, today - not $15,000 (9).

This $49,000/inmate/yr is the average for all inmates, not the level IV security of death row inmate like criminals that will cost more, if not much more.

For higher security inmates, which, likely, would include those transferred from death row,  the costs range from $71,000 - $172,000/inmate/yr. (9), not $15,000.

USAT, fact checking?  Truly embarrassing.

7)  USA Today: "A Colorado study in 2013 found that death penalty cases took more than five years on average to complete, compared to 1 1/2 years for cases involving life without parole."

Rebuttal: Of course, USAT didn't even consider how completely irresponsible Colorado judges are. Let's look.

John Allen Muhammad , the DC sniper, was arrested on October 24, 2002. His Virginia trial began on October 14, 2003, he was sentenced to death on November 24, 2003 and was executed in Virginia on November 10, 2009.

From arrest to sentence was, exactly, 12 months. The prosecution called more than 130 witnesses and introduced more than 400 pieces of evidence. It was 6 years from sentencing to execution.

That's how incredibly wasteful Colorado and many other state judges are.

Why didn't USAT use Virginia or Texas  as examples, instead of Colorado? Guess.

USAT wouldn't want to show that better management meant a better death penalty.

Therefore, just show the worst.

Would it be appropriate, when reviewing USA Today's journalistic record, to only look at her disasters - as this article -  and, completely, avoid any successes?

8) USA Today: "The cross-country battle over lethal injection methods has taken on added importance since last year, when inmates in Ohio, Oklahoma and Arizona gasped, moaned or writhed in pain during the administration of a three-drug cocktail including the sedative midazolam. But other protocols have come under attack as well."

Rebuttal:  How misleading and/or a lack of fact checking. 

There is, certainly, no evidence that the death row inmates suffered any pain in the Arizona (13) or Ohio (14) executions.  The problem in Oklahoma was poor procedure, not the drug (15).


"No one who witnessed the execution has said Wood ever woke up. It simply took a long time for him to die." (13)

"(Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan) said IV lines in the inmate’s arms were “perfectly placed” and insisted that Wood felt no pain. " (13)

He is correct , there could have been no pain, only sedation, sleep, coma and death (with apnea, shortness of breath, wheezing, other noises, etc. common.

“This doesn't actually sound like a botched execution. This actually sounds like a typical scenario if you used that drug combination,” said Karen Sibert, an anesthesiologist and associate professor at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Sibert was speaking on behalf of the California Society of Anesthesiologists." (13)


"State prison records released Monday say McGuire told guards that (McGuire's counsel, Robert) Lowe counseled him to make a show of his death that would, perhaps, lead to abolition of the death penalty. But three accounts from prison officials indicate McGuire refused to put on a display." (14)

"Amy Borror, a spokeswoman for the public defender's office, said all accounts from execution eyewitnesses - which did not include Lowe - indicate McGuire was unconscious at the time he struggled to breathe." (14)

"Medical experts would not comment on Mr. McGuire’s execution or speculate about what he experienced. They agreed that used for surgery, the two drugs would not cause pain. (14).

“By virtue of what they do, they cause unconsciousness, and they inhibit pain,” said Dr. Howard Nearman, professor of anesthesiology at Case Western Reserve University (14).

As there was no surgery, both drugs were given at overdose levels and both drugs would enhance the effects of the other, of course there was no pain.

Do folks wheeze, snore, move or cough etc. while sleeping? Do those with opiate overdoses wheeze, snore, move, cough, have spasms, etc.? Of course, which is all that happened with McGuire, as some predicted.

The Associate Press witness:

"McGuire was still for almost five minutes, then emitted a loud snort, as if snoring, and continued to make that sound over the next several minutes. He also soundlessly opened and shut his mouth several times as his stomach rose and fell." "A coughing sound was Dennis McGuire’s last apparent movement, at 10:43 a.m. He was pronounced dead 10 minutes later." (14)

How did USAT leave all that out?

Either they don't fact check and/or they only want you to see the anti death penalty side of the story, even if it is false or misleading . . . obvious.

9) USA Today: "Today, there is a similar consensus (against the death penalty) : Two-thirds of the states have held no executions since 2010. And the percentage of Americans who favor capital punishment is down from 78% two decades ago to 56% today, according to the Pew Research Center."

Rebuttal:  USAT has zero factual basis for finding a consensus against the death penalty, when USAT quotes 56% (or 86%) death penalty support and because some judges, some governors, some attorney generals  and/or some legislators are blocking executions and/or are, otherwise, prolonging appeals.

Polling: Pew shows 56% support, a majority. But, let's not have our pro death penalty consensus  be based upon only those polls which the media wishes us to see.

For example, a 2013 poll by Angus-Reid (AR) found 86% death penalty support, nationally (16). All media outlets decided not to carry that poll, even though AR has an excellent polling record, inclusive of being the most accurate in the 2008 presidential election (16).

AR got the message and stopped doing their annual death penalty poll.

Why was the support so high? Because AR has a "sometimes" support the death penalty answer, exactly the fashion in which we apply the death penalty, rarely and sometimes, making it the most accurate  barometer of death penalty support. The other two choices are "always" and "never", making "sometimes" the perfect response, reflecting the US death penalty system.

"similar consensus" - really USAT?

10) USA Today:  "Rep. Renny Cushing is an unlikely proponent of abolition. His father and brother-in-law were murdered in separate incidents, 23 years and a thousand miles apart. Still, he says death sentences just divert attention from where it's most needed." "It makes rock stars out of killers. It allows us in many ways to ignore or not tend to the needs of individual victims' survivors."

REBUTTAL: USAT is, completely, clueless to Cushing's hypocrisy  . . . or they avoided it.

Neither of the Cushing family murderers were death penalty eligible. His father's murder resulted in the maximum sentence, yet Cushing works against all other victim survivors who want the maximum sentence, the death penalty, in their, actual, death penalty cases.

Cushing is a leader in turning victim against victim and working against the desires of other victim survivors, if they find justice is best served by a death sentence (19).

Why can't Cushing and others, simply, leave the death penalty alone, tell other victim survivors they respect their right to seek the death penalty in their case? Because they value making sure that all murderers live, above the wishes of other murder victim survivors (19).

Wanting all murderers to live, no matter the cost, is a defining anti death penalty characteristic (2).

11)  USA TODAY: "A new study by the anti-death penalty group Reprieve Australia showed that prosecutors in Caddo Parish, Louisiana, struck would-be black jurors 46% of the time, compared to 15% for others."

REBUTTAL: As Reprieve is an anti death penalty group, USAT blindly accepted their results, as appears standard or USAT.  If blacks in Caddo Parish opposed the death penalty at a rate three times that of other groups, the would-be black juror striking rate would be expected and predictable, as in North Carolina, for example (20).

But we don't know, because that wouldn't matter, as USAT's concern was furthering the anti death penalty message.

Why would USAT look at death penalty support/rejection by race/ethnicity and how that relates to striking rates by race/ethnicity in death penalty cases, when that is the only thing that matters in this context.

USAT wouldn't, of course.

12)  USA Today:  "Glossip's (innocence) contention has won support from the likes of British business executive Richard Branson, actress Susan Sarandon and TV's "Dr. Phil" McGraw. More than 250,000 online petitions seeking a 60-day reprieve were delivered to Gov. Mary Fallin this month. On Friday, former U.S. senator Tom Coburn and former University of Oklahoma head football coach Barry Switzer added their names."

REBUTTAL:  Some media just become like melted butter before celebrities. Just so much oohs and ahhs.

The Glossip case sure is looking a lot like the Troy Davis fiasco (20):

"The Troy Davis campaign, like many before it, is a simple, blatant fraud, easily uncovered by the most basic of fact checking." "The case for Davis' guilt is overwhelming, just as were his due process protections, which may have surpassed that of all but a few death row inmates." (21)

Some media, like USAT, feel it more important to look at the opinons of anti death penalty celebrities, as opposed to reviewing the appellate record and the judicial decisions.

Hey, it's a serious topic!

Is Glossip innocent or guilty? USAT doesn't help, much, only giving us celebrities.

And, somehow, USAT missed this:

“This (Glossip PR) is a bull**** public relations campaign,” District Attorney David Prater told reporters, "that’s all it is, to abolish the death penalty in this state and throughout the country. Otherwise, they'd be acting like lawyers and be filing paperwork and taking paperwork and evidence to the prosecutor and the governor’s office.”

"Our position has always been that they need to take any evidence to a court,” said Alex Weintz, spokesman for Fallin. “It is not about petition drives and celebrity endorsements.”

Heck if its not, ask USAT.

13) USA Today: Murdered Sheriff Sgt. Michael Naylor's  widow, Denise Davis didn't wish to go through either death penalty trial or appeals for her husband's murderer.

USAT missed the pro death penalty point, of course.

Only because of the death penalty was a plea, to a sentence of life without parole (LWOP),  possible.

Without the death penalty, only a plea to life with parole would have been possible, a plea that would not have been accepted, requiring a LWOP trial, with appeals, if found guilty.

The death penalty, sparing a little anguish and a lot of time and money, by allowing for LWOP pleas - a different perspective than USAT and one that USAT missed?

14) USA Today: "Seven states have repealed the death penalty since 2007. Among the 31 that retain it, governors have imposed a moratorium in four, and most others haven't executed anyone in years. Only seven states carried out executions in the past two years."

REBUTTAL - Important facts: Since 2007, 12 states have ended executions and/or the death penalty.

5 have repealed the death penalty, by law, by a majority Democratic legislature, with a Democratic Governor, signing the repeal. 2 of those 5 (NJ and IL) did so in a lame duck session.

5 states have stopped executions, all by Democratic Governor fiat, inclusive of California, whose governor, attorney general and corrections dept. did nothing  for 7 years,  about a federal and, later, state court ruling against their lethal injection protocol, when numerous states had solid protocols, approved by federal courts, which Ca could have presented to the federal judge, within hours of the rulings, 7-9 years, ago.

One "conservative" (22) legislature Nebraska, repealed the death penalty, overcoming the Republican governor's veto. A long time Democratic, anti death penalty activist, Sen. Ernie Chambers, who compares US police to ISIS, was the, undisputed, leader on the anti death penalty side, as he has been for decades.

The Nebraska repeal has been stopped by a conservative led pro death penalty referendum campaign and will not be entered into law. A vote is required on the issue in 2016.

That vote occurred on November 8, 2016, which retained the death penalty in Nebraska (61%-39%), as additional death penalty votes in California and Oklahoma strengthened  death penalty application.

As all other state death penalty repeals, the majority of the population supported the death penalty, by a wide margin.

Anti death penalty forces did all they could to stop citizens from voting on the issue.

I am unaware of any US popular vote against the death penalty.

A New York state appellate court found their statute to be unconstitutional.

Looks like the Democratic Party is driving this bus - USAT missed it. Or . . .

In all 12 instances, the majority in those states, supported/support the death penalty. Even, the majority populations in Western Europe supported the execution of Saddam Hussein, a "sometimes" example in polling (16).

Sometimes the voice of the people matters. Sometimes not.

15)  USA TODAY: "Even in Texas  . . . the death penalty is on the ropes. The state sentenced 48 people to death as recently as 1999. So far this year? Not a single one."

REBUTTAL - More detail: Keep in mind that capital murders may have dropped by 80% in Texas from 1991 - 2013, Murders have dropped 57%, rapes 19% and robberies 36% (6), A much lower occurrence of  rape/murders and robbery/murders, the dominant death penalty eligible murders, equals a much lower number of death sentences. Murders "rates" have dropped 71%, rapes 47% and robberies 58% (6).

I agree, zero death sentences, so far, in 2015, is remarkable.

Hope capital murders, as all violent crimes, keep dropping.

1)  a)  The 4.1% "Innocent" on Death Row: More Nonsense
     b)  Start with sections 3 & 4

The Innocent Frauds: Standard Anti Death Penalty Strategy

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

3) Judges Responsible For Grossly Uneven Executions 


5) Capital Punishment, 2013 – Statistical Tables, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Table 11, Number of inmates executed, by race and Hispanic origin,  1977–2013,

6) United States Crime Data, from FBI UCR

The Disaster Center is a convenient and reliable source for crime data

1957 murder rate of  4.0 from

 Capital Punishment, 2013 – Statistical Tables, Bureau of Justice Statistics, TABLE 16  Prisoners sentenced to death and the outcome of the sentence, by year of sentencing, 1973–2013

8)  Total cases affected 746, so far : state law or court ruling, after 1973, CT, IL, MD, MA, NJ, NM, NY; cases stopping specific case death penalty application, Atkins v Virginia, Roper  vs Simmons, Ring vs Arizona and others.

I haven't gotten new case law numbers on Ring, Penry and others, yet.

My informed estimate is that we are looking at a total of a 12% drop in death sentences, based upon new case law reductions and death penalty repeal, alone.

Gregg v Georgia (1976) accounted for about 500 - 600 death penalty reversals (9), from 1973-1978, which are modern era death sentences. I didn't count those.

9) See Virginia and California
Saving Costs with The Death Penalty

10)  Capital Punishment, 2013 – Statistical Tables, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Table 11, Number of inmates executed, by race and Hispanic origin, 1977–2013,

11) Capital Punishment, 2013 – Statistical Tables, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Table 10. Average time between sentencing and execution, 1977–2013, 12/2014, 

12) "James Holmes prosecutor talks about the one holdout juror who spared the killer's life", Maria L. LaGanga, Los Angeles Times, 8/24/2015

13)  No "Botched" Execution - Arizona (or Ohio)

14)  The (Imagined) Horror of Dennis McGuire's Execution

15) Clayton Lockett: The Case for Execution (Oklahoma)

16)  86% Death Penalty Support: Highest Ever - April 2013 World Support Remains High
95% of Murder Victim's Family Members Support Death Penalty

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

19) Murder Victims' Families Against The Death Penalty: More Hurt For Victims Families

20) For Example: One would expect that blacks would be 3 times as likely to be excused from jury service in North Carolina death penalty cases, as are whites, based solely on the fact that 35% of blacks strongly oppose the death penalty, whites only 11%.

21) "Troy Davis & The Innocent Frauds of the anti death penalty lobby",

22)  On classic liberal lines, many alleged conservatives voted for and voted to override conservative Governors's veto so that Nebraska would increase the gas tax, repeal the death penalty and give driver’s licenses to children of illegal immigrants.