According to a press release from mid-August, Nevada will use an untested combination of diazepam (also known as valium), fentanyl (the opiate), and cisatracurium (a muscle relaxant that causes paralysis), to execute Scott Raymon Dozier. The 46-year-old was sentenced to death for two murders in the early 2000s — since his sentencing in 2007, Dozier waived his right to appeal and has stated that his “goal is to be executed,” as reported by The Las Vegas Review-Journal. His execution is scheduled for Nov. 14.
Dozier’s execution will be Nevada’s first in more than a decade. As the Marshall Project noted, Nevada will be the latest state to use an untested method of execution since the pharmaceutical industry’s opposition to the use of their products in capital punishment has prevented prisons from purchasing a cocktail of drugs formerly used in execution. It’s also unclear why fentanyl will be used given the other drug’s properties.
From the Marshall Project:
The fentanyl and diazepam “may be trying to block the experience of suffocation,” said Joel B. Zivot, an Emory University anesthesiologist who has served as an expert witness in legal challenges to execution protocols. “The fentanyl takes away pain, and the Valium takes away anxiety. Both drugs are limited in their ability to do that, and of course neither is designed to block the pain or anxiety of death. So that’s just a show.”
Even if it’s Dozier’s wish to die, the ACLU of Nevada could interject on his behalf. “The concern is that this specific chemical cocktail that they have proposed has never been used in this way before. It’s not like they can point to some success or result. This will be the first time,” said Tod Story, the ACLU of Nevada’s Executive director, in a statement to CNN. Story also indicated that the ACLU is exploring all options to halt Dozier’s execution.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 64,070 overdoses last year on opiates, up 21% from the year before — an increase the CDC blames on the rising popularity of fentanyl.