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To the editor: The two different points of view on Baze v. Rees that recently appeared in Legal Times (“ Please Ignore the Pain,” Jan. 7, Page 36, and “ Ten Myths About the Needle,” Jan. 14, Page 34) did not address a simple alternative to lethal injection that would avoid problems discussed by the justices, as well as the so-called “botched executions” cited by death penalty opponents. Since concerns about using drugs for capital punishment nearly all arise from problems with injection itself — finding a suitable vein, positioning the needle, keeping it in, preventing the tubing from crimping or clogging, etc. — an obvious solution would be to use pills to administer the barbiturate. Providing a condemned man with barbiturate pills to cause a quick, painless death does not require any trained (much less medical) personnel. If the prisoner refuses to take the pills or only pretends to swallow them, he can hardly complain about “cruel and unusual punishment” if the state thereafter uses lethal injection, since his own actions were the direct cause of his suffering. To paraphrase the old legal saying, he had the key to his own freedom from pain. The amount of barbiturates needed to cause death could be contained in three or four pills prepared by a government agency. Concerns that the convict would fill his stomach to slow the absorption of the ingested drug are groundless because condemned prisoners are usually kept under constant watch for 24 hours before execution and because any such ploy would likewise make the condemned responsible for his own pain (if any). Also, since orally administered drugs take effect more gradually than injected drugs, this method is much less likely to cause the sudden adverse reactions that lethal injections are sometimes said to trigger. John F. Banzhaf III Professor of Public Interest Law George Washington University Law School Washington, D.C.

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