Maryland Death Penalty Meets Globalization

As Maryland officials attempt to develop a lethal injection protocol that is acceptable to the courts, they have run into an unexpected roadblock – Globalization.   Pharmaceutical companies that produce the drugs used in executions are for the most part multi-national entities, either headquartered in Europe or with large business interests in that region. Capital punishment has been banished in Europe.  Extraditing suspects who might face the death penalty is forbidden, and exporting materials that might be used for executions has now come under intense scrutiny.

Sodium thiopental, the anesthetic Maryland (and all other executing states) had been using as the first drug in its three-drug protocol, was produced by Hospira, at a factory in Italy.  Now, because of controversy over its use in executions, Hospira will no longer make the drug at all.  A generic version of sodium thiopental is manufactured by a subsidiary of Swiss-based Novartis, but that company has announced it will take all steps necessary to prevent its export to the US.  An alternative to sodium thiopental, pentobarbital, which has been used in Oklahoma and may soon be used in Ohio, is made by a company called Lundbeck, based in Denmark.  That company has already gone on record objecting to the use of their drug in executions, and it may only be a matter of time before Lundbeck takes steps to ensure that their drug doesn’t wind up in US execution chambers.

In a world where there has been a concerted (though not 100% successful) effort to track diamonds from their source to ensure that “blood diamonds” don’t make it into the world market, it’s not a stretch to imagine similar measures being taken to ensure that drugs created for healing the sick don’t end up being used to kill prisoners.  In short, the global nature of the pharmaceutical marketplace, and the increasing opposition to capital punishment outside the US – 2/3 of the world’s countries no longer use the death penalty –  may make it very difficult for Maryland and other states to settle on lethal injection protocols that can actually be implemented.

These factors beyond the state’s control mean that Maryland’s death penalty may become even more of a false promise for families of murder victims (and a huge waste of money for Maryland taxpayers).  The 2008 Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment has already concluded, by a 20-1 vote, that the death penalty is worse for victims’ families than alternative sentences (with all victim family members on the commission in agreement).

Fortunately, for Maryland at least, there is an easy way out of this mess.  Bills calling for the state’s moribund death penalty to finally be repealed have been filed in both the House and Senate, each with a record number of cosponsors.  Though there is a lot on the table for this years’ legislative session in Maryland, lawmakers should take some time to pass this legislation, sparing victims’ families from endless ordeals, and preserving taxpayer dollars for more important needs.

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20 thoughts on “Maryland Death Penalty Meets Globalization

  1. I think it is about time that the US listened to the rest of those countries who have abolished the death penalty.
    It is not the answer and if it was why would Europe and the drug countries be abolishing it?

  2. Apart from the moral issue of deliberately killing people, it is questionable whether capital punishment, which I prefer to call judicial homicide, deters capital crimes at all. Most of these crimes are committed by young men, who will, if sentenced to be killed, live into middle age. By then most of their contemporaries will be past their criminal stage. The young men who are killing by then won't be fazed by some old guy getting fried. They either see themselves as immortal or as not living to be that old anyway.

  3. 2 wrongs dont make a right. We should not teach our children that when one man kills another we should kill him. Killing is wrong period. The world needs to realize that these perpetrators are mentally ill and need help just like an addict or someone with a terminal disease. We are all a product of the environment surrounding us. More killing will just create a chain effect. Capital punishment is wrong and rudimentary. We have too much knowledge of the mind and treatment practices to take such harsh actions on one another. Killing is never justified or justification for anyone effected by a crime or a loss of a loved one.

  4. Well, that's not going to stop anybody from further executions, isn't it? We all know darn well there are millions of ways to kill a person. My proposal is simple; instead of focusing on death penalty, let's focusing on the judgement systems and the correction facilities. I know, it's even harder than pushing to phase out the death penalty. But billions of people around the world are being jailed annually, and then billions are being released and lives among us. For a great deal of those who were once part of an uncivilized society, are again with us under certain disguise. Doesn't that worries anybody a little? A BAD prison system is a punishment for the whole society. As for the individuals, I have no doubt he/ she will do whatever it takes to live on.

  5. I think it is about time that the US listened to the rest of those countries who have abolished the death penalty.
    It is not the answer and if it was why would Europe and the drug countries be abolishing it?

  6. Apart from the moral issue of deliberately killing people, it is questionable whether capital punishment, which I prefer to call judicial homicide, deters capital crimes at all. Most of these crimes are committed by young men, who will, if sentenced to be killed, live into middle age. By then most of their contemporaries will be past their criminal stage. The young men who are killing by then won’t be fazed by some old guy getting fried. They either see themselves as immortal or as not living to be that old anyway.

  7. Okay, so if the death penalty isn't the answer, what do you propose is? Do you think leaving those people to rot and "rehabilitate" is effective too? The recidivism rate for people released from prison is approximately 80 percent. Great. They go commit the same or different crime and go right back to prison when they get caught. It costs taxpayers approximately 24K a year to keep one, ONE person on death row. That doesn't include the additional money used to maintain prisons. And what about the victim's families who will sleep better at night knowing their dead family member has been vindicated? A 20 to 1 vote in Maryland doesn't speak for every family in Maryland, let alone the U.S. That's an absurd generalization.

    Sure I know the right thing to do is speak up on the behalf of the people on death row. If they're contrite after the crime is committed, well, what's done is done. They shouldn't have done whatever they did in the first place. To blame the criminal's family or tough environment or lack of education in order to justify their bad behavior, is crap. There are plenty of people who have come from worse and still managed to overcome their obstacles without hurting anyone. There are consequences for murder, so why go easy on someone who knows better but feigns ignorance in order to be released back into society? No thanks.

  8. 2 wrongs dont make a right. We should not teach our children that when one man kills another we should kill him. Killing is wrong period. The world needs to realize that these perpetrators are mentally ill and need help just like an addict or someone with a terminal disease. We are all a product of the environment surrounding us. More killing will just create a chain effect. Capital punishment is wrong and rudimentary. We have too much knowledge of the mind and treatment practices to take such harsh actions on one another. Killing is never justified or justification for anyone effected by a crime or a loss of a loved one.

  9. Well, that’s not going to stop anybody from further executions, isn’t it? We all know darn well there are millions of ways to kill a person. My proposal is simple; instead of focusing on death penalty, let’s focusing on the judgement systems and the correction facilities. I know, it’s even harder than pushing to phase out the death penalty. But billions of people around the world are being jailed annually, and then billions are being released and lives among us. For a great deal of those who were once part of an uncivilized society, are again with us under certain disguise. Doesn’t that worries anybody a little? A BAD prison system is a punishment for the whole society. As for the individuals, I have no doubt he/ she will do whatever it takes to live on.

  10. Okay, so if the death penalty isn’t the answer, what do you propose is? Do you think leaving those people to rot and “rehabilitate” is effective too? The recidivism rate for people released from prison is approximately 80 percent. Great. They go commit the same or different crime and go right back to prison when they get caught. It costs taxpayers approximately 24K a year to keep one, ONE person on death row. That doesn’t include the additional money used to maintain prisons. And what about the victim’s families who will sleep better at night knowing their dead family member has been vindicated? A 20 to 1 vote in Maryland doesn’t speak for every family in Maryland, let alone the U.S. That’s an absurd generalization.

    Sure I know the right thing to do is speak up on the behalf of the people on death row. If they’re contrite after the crime is committed, well, what’s done is done. They shouldn’t have done whatever they did in the first place. To blame the criminal’s family or tough environment or lack of education in order to justify their bad behavior, is crap. There are plenty of people who have come from worse and still managed to overcome their obstacles without hurting anyone. There are consequences for murder, so why go easy on someone who knows better but feigns ignorance in order to be released back into society? No thanks.

  11. the other week,i heard on "law and disorder radio",that Ohio had several condemned inmates on hunger strike demanding that they be released from solitary confinement to the "regular" basic death row-while the other industrial nations don't have any death row,Ohio convicts have to fight the barbarism to "upgrade" to death row.now this Maryland news-the prison system there has to scramble to get the life destroying drugs to "waiting" inmates.reading this stuff is disorientating.

  12. the other week,i heard on “law and disorder radio”,that Ohio had several condemned inmates on hunger strike demanding that they be released from solitary confinement to the “regular” basic death row-while the other industrial nations don’t have any death row,Ohio convicts have to fight the barbarism to “upgrade” to death row.now this Maryland news-the prison system there has to scramble to get the life destroying drugs to “waiting” inmates.reading this stuff is disorientating.

  13. The death penalty imitates exactly what it seeks to condemn. If it's such a deterrent, why is it still in use? Have any of you ever taught your child to stay out of the road by sitting in it? I didn't think so. Using this type of drug for executions is off label usage anyway and drug makers have been warning US prisons to stop using their drug for this purpose.

    To Anna above, you need to recalculate your $ regarding a person on death row. It varies from state to state and you neglected to put in the appeals which can take any where from 10-20 years on average, paid by the tax payers. For example, in California it costs the tax payers $114 million beyond that of a life sentence due to said appeals. See here: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/documents/FactShe

    Regarding recidivism rate, you need to be more specific. It isn't lumped together in on category. Which one are you talking about? Drug users (who shouldn't be in prison anyway) drug traffickers, armed robbery, etc.You can look those facts up yourself.

    Not to mention the innocence project which to date, has exonerated 266 death row inmates. See here: http://www.innocenceproject.org/know/ How would you feel if it were your loved one who was posthumously pardoned? Know your facts first, talk second. This is a major part of the problem here in the United States. Too many of you are uneducated. I hope you stay away from the voting polls.

  14. The death penalty imitates exactly what it seeks to condemn. If it's such a deterrent, why is it still in use? Have any of you ever taught your child to stay out of the road by sitting in it? I didn't think so. Using this type of drug for executions is off label usage anyway and drug makers have been warning US prisons to stop using their drug for this purpose.

    To Anna above, you need to recalculate your $ regarding a person on death row. It varies from state to state and you neglected to put in the appeals which can take any where from 10-20 years on average, paid by the tax payers. For example, in California it costs the tax payers $114 million beyond that of a life sentence due to said appeals. See here: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/documents/FactShe

    Regarding recidivism rate, you need to be more specific. It isn't lumped together in on category. Which one are you talking about? Drug users (who shouldn't be in prison anyway) drug traffickers, armed robbery, etc.You can look those facts up yourself.

    Not to mention the innocence project which to date, has exonerated 266 death row inmates. See here: http://www.innocenceproject.org/know/ How would you feel if it were your loved one who was posthumously pardoned? Know your facts first, talk second. This is a major part of the problem here in the United States. Too many of you are uneducated. I hope you stay away from the voting polls.

  15. The death penalty imitates exactly what it seeks to condemn. If it's such a deterrent, why is it still in use? Have any of you ever taught your child to stay out of the road by sitting in it? I didn't think so. Using this type of drug for executions is off label usage anyway and drug makers have been warning US prisons to stop using their drug for this purpose.

    To Anna above, you need to recalculate your $ regarding a person on death row. It varies from state to state and you neglected to put in the appeals which can take any where from 10-20 years on average, paid by the tax payers. For example, in California it costs the tax payers $114 million beyond that of a life sentence due to said appeals. See here: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/documents/FactShe

    Regarding recidivism rate, you need to be more specific. It isn't lumped together in on category. Which one are you talking about? Drug users (who shouldn't be in prison anyway) drug traffickers, armed robbery, etc.You can look those facts up yourself.

    Not to mention the innocence project which to date, has exonerated 266 death row inmates. See here: http://www.innocenceproject.org/know/ How would you feel if it were your loved one who was posthumously pardoned? Know your facts first, talk second. This is a major part of the problem here in the United States. Too many of you are uneducated. I hope you stay away from the voting polls.

  16. The death penalty imitates exactly what it seeks to condemn. If it’s such a deterrent, why is it still in use? Have any of you ever taught your child to stay out of the road by sitting in it? I didn’t think so. Using this type of drug for executions is off label usage anyway and drug makers have been warning US prisons to stop using their drug for this purpose.

    To Anna above, you need to recalculate your $ regarding a person on death row. It varies from state to state and you neglected to put in the appeals which can take any where from 10-20 years on average, paid by the tax payers. For example, in California it costs the tax payers $114 million beyond that of a life sentence due to said appeals. See here: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/documents/FactSheet.pdf

    Regarding recidivism rate, you need to be more specific. It isn’t lumped together in on category. Which one are you talking about? Drug users (who shouldn’t be in prison anyway) drug traffickers, armed robbery, etc.You can look those facts up yourself.

    Not to mention the innocence project which to date, has exonerated 266 death row inmates. See here: http://www.innocenceproject.org/know/ How would you feel if it were your loved one who was posthumously pardoned? Know your facts first, talk second. This is a major part of the problem here in the United States. Too many of you are uneducated. I hope you stay away from the voting polls.