By Sarah Seltzer
September 22, 2011
The tragic debacle that has been the Troy Davis execution has another dimension to it beyond racism, classism, and the miscarriage of justice in a flawed system. That dimension is capitalism: specifically, the corporatization of the prison-industrial complex. If you’ve noticed some angry tweets directed at @correcthealth in the past day, that’s because “CorrectHealth” is the Orwellian-named “medical company” that, according to the ACLU, “oversees all executions in Georgia” including last night’s. It is a for-profit company that stands to make a pile money off of every execution.
Furthermore, earlier this year the Southern Center for Human Rights filed this complaint against CorrectHealth due to the shady methods used to obtain the drug that is used in lethal injections. From their press release:
Today, the Southern Center for Human Rights (“SCHR”) filed a complaint with the Georgia Composite Medical Board against Carlo Anthony Musso, MD, seeking the revocation or suspension of his medical license based upon his involvement in illegally importing and distributing the drug, sodium thiopental, to be used in carrying out the death penalty.
The law, both federal and state, is clear: no person or organization may import or distribute a controlled substance without first registering with both the Georgia Board of Pharmacy and the federal Drug Enforcement Authority (DEA) of the Attorney General. The complaint filed today presents evidence that Carlo Anthony Musso, M.D., owner and operator of the Georgia-based companies CorrectHealth and Rainbow Medical Associates, had no such licenses when he imported sodium thiopental into the United States and distributed it to the departments of corrections in Kentucky and Tennessee….
Since the spring of 2010, there has been a nationwide shortage of sodium thiopental, one of three drugs commonly used by states to carry out executions. Because sodium thiopental is necessary to eliminate the pain that would otherwise be experienced by administration of the other two drugs, the shortage of sodium thiopental places the states’ ability to carry out executions in jeopardy. As a result, those states that used the drug as the critical anesthetic to carry out a sentence of death by lethal injection scrambled to find alternative sources.
The Georgia Department of Corrections (“DOC”) secured its supply from a London-based pharmaceutical supplier (Dream Pharma) that operated out of the back of a driving school. In March, 2011, the Drug Enforcement Authority (DEA) seized Georgia’s supply amid questions about how the drug was imported into the United States.
Dr. Musso’s company, CorrectHealth, also purchased and imported a supply of sodium thiopental from Dream Pharma. In addition to importing this drug, Dr. Musso sold his supply to Kentucky and Tennessee, two other states desperate to obtain the highly sought-after sodium thiopental. Just as the DEA seized the drugs purchased by the Georgia DOC, the DEA followed Dr. Musso’s unregistered sales of the illegally obtained sodium thiopental and seize the drugs purchased by Kentucky and Tennessee.
One of the reasons there’s a shortage of this drug is because while its primary Stateside supplier remains low on supply, the UK has forbidden legal exports which may be used in executions. Why? They think it’s inhumane--as should we. This is yet another reason not to execute our own citizens, even if it means–gasp!–another corporation turns less of a profit.
Here’s a video of Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz talking about the shortage of drugs and how it illuminates the fact that the death penalty in the US is a “system in chaos.”