Behind Bars

Non-Lethal Injection

A Commentary By Kevin Cooper

On June 9, 2011, I, Kevin Cooper, was taken to Palm Drive Hospital in Sebastopol, California for a colonoscopy. It was during this event that I was given a non-lethal injection by the hospital staff.

This was done to render me unconscious so that the colonoscopy could take place. Under normal circumstances I may not have paid much, or any, attention to this medical procedure. But I am not living in “normal” conditions as society may use that term.

I am on “Death Row” living in a world where things are mostly abnormal! This includes the way that this state allows its volunteer executioners to use the state’s death penalty to torture its condemned inmates. Torturing them by using lethal injections as the means to murder them.

What I experienced and learned at that hospital makes me know for certain that these executioners are doing what they are doing to the condemned inmates because they want to!

For example, when I was going through that colonoscopy at the hospital, I had done to me there what the state’s lethal injection protocols say I, or any other death row inmate, are supposed to have done to us on Death Row. I had needles and intervenous tubing placed in my arms; and when talking to the nurse while chained to the bed, I watched her pump drugs into my arm.

Then I woke up in the recovery room. I did not feel any pain, nor did I even know what happened. I did not feel the colonoscopy even happen. Before I was rendered unconscious, the medical doctor who performed the procedure explained to me what he was going to do. He even showed me the TV monitor that he would be looking at to see my colon by way of the camera that he would be placing inside of me. Yet I felt none of that, nor do I know how long I was unconscious. I just woke up sometime later in the recovery room.

If those people at the hospital wanted to murder me, I would have been dead without even knowing that it was happenening!

After I returned to this prison, I started to think about what I went through. I came to the conclusion that, no matter what the employees of the state, and their death penalty supporters say and deny, these volunteer prison guard executioners are physically torturing condemned inmates because they want to.

This is no “mere mistake” that, over and over again, Death Row inmates who are executed here at San Quentin Prison are, in fact, physically tortured by these executioners. These executioners are a “new breed of prison guard” who pride themselves on being more educated than the stereotypical prison guards that came before them. These executioners, including the executioners who come from the ranks of the prison guards, and who, when not executing condemned prisoners, have regular prison guard duties, take pride in the fact that they are college educated. Or that they have this degree, or that degree, which enables them to be some of the highest paid people within this state and country. Educated people don’t make the types of mistakes on a regular basis that allows for the torturing of their fellow citizens as we have going on here at San Quentin Prison.

I, as an abolitionist, as a human being, as an African American who has learned about the historic and horrific things done to all poor people by the use of capital punishment within this country and around the world, am in no way endorsing any type of death penalty procedure. And I am speaking from personal experience in dealing with the colonoscopy and lethal injection.

For anyone who doesn’t know or doesn’t remember, on February 9, 2004, I came within three hours and forty-two minutes of being physically tortured and executed by this State before it was cancelled. I went through all the procedures, which included having my arms searched to find suitable veins for the executioners to insert the razor-sharp needles to deliver the lethal injection.

Whenever these educated executioners learn how much of any drug it takes to render a person unconscious and then to murder them, they are also learning how much of a drug not to give so that a person is rendered unconscious only for a limited period of time.

It’s just like the police officers, who are trained about how to find and handle evidence. This also means they are trained how to plant evidence. It’s just the other side of the coin.

I think that the people of California and around this country and the world need to acknowledge and accept the fact that these volunteer executioners, for the most part, don’t care anything about human rights or humanity. And what they have done, will do and are still doing in some states to condemned inmates, is being done because they want it done. They want not only to execute someone, but first, to psychologically, mentally and emotionally torture them before finally, physically, torturing them to death. The sooner that this is acknowledged, then maybe, the sooner we can end this crime against humanity.

Since there is no right way to do the wrong thing, America as a whole needs to abolish the death penalty in all of its various methods.