The ethical considerations behind the death penalty are always mired in sociopolitical controversy. While the death penalty may only be legal in 31 states, it is actually lawful in all 50 states (and the territories of the United States) under Federal law. All 31 state systems primarily administer a form of lethal injection with a combination of drugs to paralyze, anesthetize, and euthanize the condemned prisoners. Former practices of electrocuting prisoners, gassing them, hanging them, or holding them before a firing squad may be available in some states as an alternative.
Cases of botched lethal injections have been used as ammunition by those opposing capital punishment. Among the concerns for the execution of wrongfully convicted defendants, the cost associated with the death penalty has made it of questionable benefit to the states. It costs more to house and execute a death row prisoner than it costs to sentence them to life in prison.
Most prisoners, like the most famous death row prisoner, Abu-Jamal, succumb to various chronic health problems and frailty long before an execution is possible. Abu-Jamal was convicted and formerly sentenced to death in a controversial case where the evidence was based on unreliable eye-witness testimony and hearsay testimony of officials that he confessed to the shooting. One of the eye-witnesses who pinned him to the shooting was a prostitute; street people who are infamously known to act as paid informants for police. The officials had obvious political motives to frame Abu-Jamal for his civil rights activism. Furthermore, the ballistics were done by a state lab that works hand and hand with the prosecution. Only four states in the country have independent crime labs.
The question presented in the AZ case of Scott Raymond Dozier is whether drug manufacturers have the right to retain control over the intended use of their products domestically. Is it unlawful for a third-party to obtain the drugs from the manufacturer and resell them for purposes that are contrary to their design of improving life and health?
In Nevada, Scott Raymond Dozier was slated for the administration of a lethal injection execution. It was to be carried out on July 19, 2018. This would be the first state-sponsored execution to be effectuated in 12 years. However, the pharmaceutical drug maker Alvogen, Inc. won a reprieve in the court to block the execution on the grounds that their drug, Midazolam, was unlawfully obtained for this purpose. Alvogen, Inc. argues that it does not want its brand associated with lethal injections. McKesson Corp had unsuccessfully argued the same rationale last year against Arkansas for using its vecuronium bromide muscle relaxer in the toxic mix.
The global suppliers of similar medicines used in lethal injections have restricted sales to prevent this unauthorized use of their products. These primary global suppliers are European corporations who oppose the death penalty. This has forced the prisons to concoct new untested blends. The Alvogen, Inc. drug Midazolam has developed an association with botched executions in several other states.
It is no surprise that Dozier, himself, has no ambition to continue a meaningless life in prison. He has personally discontinued all appeals and insisted that they simply execute him. He was convicted of murdering two men in 2002 and 2005. It is written that murder victim Jeremiah Miller was not such a wonderful moral contributor to society himself. Miller was apparently trying to obtain help from Dozier in securing precursors to manufacture methamphetamines. Dozier was convicted of robbing him, decapitating him, and stuffing his torso in a suitcase that he jettisoned into a trash bin.
Now, with the Nevada execution blocked for the second time, it is unclear when or if Dozier will be executed. The previous stay, in November 2017, was enacted by a lower court judge who imposed an injunction after arguments that the prison had unlawfully obtained the paralytic drug Cisatracurium through a third-party. They failed to disclose an intended purpose to use it contrary to the design of the manufacturer. This ruling was, however, overturned by the state Supreme Court. There is likely political pressure on officials to put that new $800,000 AZ death penalty chamber to use. A status check on the case is scheduled for September 10th to see if the Alvogen drug issue is resolved in time to schedule a new execution date.
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