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Why Execute Scott Dozier?

Robert Franklin

Posted on July 4, 2018 16:34

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The Nevada Department of Corrections is about the execute its first inmate in 12 years, using a combination of drugs that has never before been tried. Is Scott Dozier's fate the same as many who came before him, suffering on a gurney to appease retributive justice?

If all goes according to plan, 47-year-old Scott Dozier will be executed at 8 p.m. local time on July 11. According to his execution plan, released by the Nevada Department of Corrections, a never-before-tried cocktail of drugs will be administered. The cocktail includes the paralytic cisatracurium, alongside midazolam and fentanyl.

The cocktail that will be used in Dozier's execution — the first execution in Nevada in 12 years — isn't controversial solely on the basis of the paralytic, though. Midazolam, a sedative, has seen diminishing use in recent years, following a high-profile 2014 execution in Arizona that saw an inmate take over two hours to die while gasping for air hundreds of times. Joseph R. Wood, the Arizona inmate, had to be injected with the standard dose of midazolam 15 times.

Cisatracurium could potentially mask a similar reaction in Dozier's execution, should his go about similarly to Wood's.

Over the last several years, increased scrutiny of the means by which state's execute inmates has kept executions, especially ones that involve high-profile inmates or new means by which to carry them out, front-and-center with opponents. Problematic executions have been held by anti-death penalty torchbearers as proof that the practice is an unjust and cruel one, especially in an age where capital punishment has been regularly subjected to scrutiny and abolition.

It's become more difficult for states to get their hands on the drugs used to execute inmates. From 1977 until about 2009, the typical lethal injection cocktail was composed of sodium thiopental, an anesthetic; pancuronium bromide, a muscle relaxant; and potassium chloride, which causes cardiac arrest when injected.

Since 2009, states that still practice the death penalty have had to figure out new ways in which to do it, resulting in an increase in executions involving experimental drug combinations, and in some cases, due to difficulties in obtaining drugs, rushing executions so as to carry them out prior to expiration dates.

If the practice is becoming more and more difficult to maintain, why do we continue to scramble to enact this degree of justice? It could be that the idea that retribution is far too important for some to give up — that the only way to enact justice against an offender would be to "do unto him as he did unto his victim."

So what happens if Scott Dozier's execution reveals that he was caused undue harm during the procedure? It's safe to say that such undue harm wouldn't go unnoticed and Dozier's name would be added to Wood's, Clayton Lockett's, Dennis McGuire's, Angel Diaz's and the procession of other inmates whose executions have been carried out using controversial means and resulted in their immediate and terrifying suffering.

Part of what "justifies" executions is that they are considered humane. Maybe we should accept that executions, inherently, are not?

Robert Franklin

Posted on July 4, 2018 16:34

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Scott Raymond Dozier's lawyers say the execution drugs pose a "high probability" risk of a "botched execution."      ...

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