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Alabama Prisoners Dying on Death Row, but by Natural Causes

by David Reutter

Prisoners are sent to death row to die for their crimes.  The shortages of drugs used for lethal injection has delayed executions, resulting in many death row prisoners dying from natural cases or suicide.  The recent frequency of this in Alabama exhibits the hypocrisy of death sentence advocates who say they feel cheated by a prisoner’s suicide.

As PLN has reported, there is a national shortage of drugs used in lethal injection, which is the current method used by most states who have the death penalty on the books.  That shortage has left Alabama authorities without the means to execute a prisoner since Charles Newman was lethally injected by the state on July 25, 2013.

Alabama has 189 prisoners sitting on death row.  In 2014 and up to October 2015, at least five prisoners on the row have died of suicide or from natural causes.

Prisoners Ricky Dale Adkins died of cancer and prisoner Justin T. Hosch hanged himself.  Those 2014 deaths preceded the March 2015 death of David Eugene Davis, 56, who died from liver failure, which was classified as a natural cause.  On June 15, prisoner Clarence Nugene Terry died of an unspecified natural cause.

About two months prior to Terry’s death, prisoner Benito Albarra, 41, committed suicide in the infirmary.  Albarran was sentenced to death for fatally shooting Huntsville police officer Daniel Golden outside a restaurant.  Golden’s family wanted to view Albaran’s execution and say he cheated them.  “He took the coward’s way out,” said David Golden, the brother of Daniel Golden.

Alabama is attempting to get its lethal injection protocol in order and in use, but it faces litigation over its use of the sedative “Midazolam”.  Death row prisoner Tommy Arthur is challenging it as inhuman.  The U.S Supreme Court has approved the drug’s use in an Oklahoma case, but Alabama utilizes a different drug protocol.  The drugs currently used in lethal injection have resulted in several botched executions from drugs that are known to chemically burn as the course through the body.

The shortage of numbing agent drugs is a result of U.S. and European drug manufacturers’ refusal to provide drugs for lethal injection.  In other civilized nations and for opponents of the death penalty, the argument against state sanctioned executions is, in part, that sentences of life without parole adequately can protect society.

The recent deaths on Alabama’s death row exhibit that prisoners will eventually be condemned to death by natural cause or by their own hand.  Under such a scenario, can the drive to spend millions in attorney fees to ensure a condemned killer can be strapped to a gurney to have burning chemicals injected in his veins as the victim’s family watches him wreath in pain until death finally occurs and he is seen as anything other than a morbid attraction disguised as justice? 


Source: Associated Press

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