How to Kill a Human Being

How to Kill a Human Being

2008, Crime  -   171 Comments
Ratings: 7.39/10 from 82 users.

How to Kill a Human BeingFormer Conservative MP Michael Portillo pushes his body to the brink of death in an investigation into the science of execution.

As the American Supreme Court examines whether the lethal injection is causing prisoners to die in unnecessary pain, Michael sets out to find a solution which is fundamentally humane.

Armed with startling new evidence, Michael considers a completely new approach.

Will it be the answer? There is only one way to find out - to experience it himself.

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Mums Glorious Orca
1 year ago

I don't understand why lethal injection takes ten mins on average from administration to death being confirmed and what makes anyone think it should take any longer than patients undergoing normal general anaesthesia to be sedated.

A drug used frequently for general anaesthesia given IV or inhalation I'm sure would be cheaper, far easier to manage and they could probably still use technicians but without the need for more expensive and extensive training and supervision.

I'm curious about the Hippocratic oath and how that extends and works in practice with patients receiving end of life care more specifically patients whose condition means there is no maximum dose for pain relief, anxiety and which commonly means administering drugs to someone you know is going to tip them over and be the thing to stop them breathing but it's neither legally, morally or ethically wrong. We are caring for people in the final stages of their life and the sole priority is making sure they are pain free and as comfortable as we can make them until they drop off one last time.

The people being executed are still facing the last moments of their life. Does it make any odds whether they are convicts or not because to me, it shouldn't. They are human beings and medical professionals still bound by an oath that does not allow them to cause harm and unnecessary suffering.

When I've had to let my dogs go (for me the worst and most painful grief like no other) the one consolation I have is knowing they went so quickly and quietly within seconds of the syringe pushed through. Vets give regular anaesthesia (phenobarbital typically) so they experience nothing more than what they would go under for a routine operation. They just go 3,2,1 – lights out.

It is just so disturbing to me that we don't afford death row inmates the same and there are people with the mindset they deserve to suffer and feel every single bit of pain for as long as poss.

nuclear war
1 year ago

i would chooseto die from being yeeted off an ass

2 years ago

I mean its not hard, an overdose of opioids is probably the most humane way to go. Its the way I would choose to go that's for sure!

William Ramey
3 years ago

I should also say that while I am technically in favor of capital punishment, practically I am against it, meaning that while I believe someone who has committed murder, rape and/or child sexual abuse deserve to be executed, the reality is that far too many people have been wrongfully convicted and at times executed. Unless and until we can 100% guarantee that no person is ever convicted of a crime, particularly a capital offense, then there should be no executions. It is impossible to do anything to correct the execution of an innocent person.

William Ramey
3 years ago

In my opinion, capital punishment is a misnomer. Anything is only punishment insomuch as the person subjected to it feels punished. I very much doubt a career criminal is much concerned about anything other than being caught, being convicted and actually dying. Everything else, to the criminal, is just another day in prison. It is my belief that the real point of capital punishment is to ensure the convicted criminal is never again able to commit a crime in the outside world, and for the victim survivors and some portion of society to have a sense of vengeance, revenge or retribution. As for Mr. Portillo's "perfect" method, I do see it as the best possible method of execution because those in favor of capital punishment, in many states, will only have capital punishment supported by enough fence sitters if those who are currently undecided believe it is a humane and painless method of execution. Would capital punishment advocates rather have a form that is potentially painful but not supported by enough of the community so that it is never carried out, or a completely painless method that gains enough support that execution becomes law and is carried out?

As a side note, I would also add that this method of execution is likely seen by anyone considering suicide as practically a recommendation for how to go about committing suicide. Even without this documentary, it seems that enough people had been using noble gas hypoxia as a method of suicide that manufacturers of helium tanks sold in party stores started adding a percentage of air to the helium tanks so that is was no longer able to be used in that way.

3 years ago

Someone wrote "In areas where the death penalty is still a possible sentence, crime still occurs.". To this person and all other brainless people. Death penalty is not scary at all! Scary is to be caught. Do you understand this SIMPLE THING? Criminals are not scared of the punishment. Never have been and never will. They will be scared only if punishment is inevitable!!!!!! That is the key. To make sure the criminal is going to be caught and punish!!!! But not after 40 years.

3 years ago

Bro is this some wikihow article?

5 years ago

The "inhumane" killing techniques are to scare the **** out of the people who cumit crimes ,so that no-one ever again tries to do the same, HUMANE killing doesn't lead in anyway to a safe and better society. STOP being idiots of the new present

5 years ago

Whether you are for or against execution, there are some people who are simply too dangerous to ever live among us. The problem is, they are often released from prison or mental institutions after a period of time. An example would be Lawrence Singleton. In 1978, he raped a 14 year old girl, then cut off both her forearms for the pleasure of it, and left her to die. She lived, he was caught, and imprisoned in California, which did not have the death penalty - then released after 8 years. In 1996, he raped and murdered another woman in Florida, was caught, imprisoned, and sentenced to death. He died of natural causes in prison in 2001.

7 years ago

im sorry but i say that those comment above is from the people did not know what is the meaning of being human..

Nikita Kade
9 years ago

My objections to capital punishment don't come from any necessarily empathic feelings for the true murderers and serial rapist/killers who are sentenced to death. They come instead from the fact that there have been errors in the justice system--egregious errors, and deliberate, corrupt ones--which sent completely innocent people to Death Row (which seems to be a prison within a prison, no matter which capital punishment state you are talking about) for years of torment before murdering them in the hideous ways this documentary talked about.

If only a single innocent person suffers this torture, ending with the extinguishing of their one and only life on this earth, the system has failed. Once certain projects (like Barry Scheck's Innocence Project) began to turn up case after case wherein innocent people sentenced to death were saved by DNA evidence, my mind was made up: the death penalty is not applied in a foolproof manner.

Not only that, but it is not even applied fairly. What earns you a death sentence in one state earns you only a prison sentence one foot over the next state line. How can this be? How can we justify taking a person's life because some state law varied from one jurisdiction to the next? This is LIFE we are talking about, not slaps on the wrist. If there is no consistency in the death penalty--if Connecticut will kill me while New Jersey will imprison me for the same crime--then where is the overwhelming rationale for the death penalty? If it's supposed to "deter" residents in one state, why doesn't the next state apply it as a "deterrent"? (And incidentally, I've never heard of a single case wherein a killer was stopped by the thought of impending execution. The desperation that leads to murder is rarely susceptible to arguments like: Gee, they have the death penalty here.) And so there can be no humanity, no "humane" construction, in its application. To know that you are going to die on such-and-such date, at such-and-such time, is a horror I can't imagine facing day after day. The torment of stays of execution, filing for new trials, appeals to governors to grant clemency--all while being confined to a cell the size of a bathroom, wherein there is no privacy or personal interaction--is a death before death. It is punishment enough if you are guilty. But what if you are innocent? Or guilty of a crime that would have earned you a life sentence if you committed it twenty miles away?

That thought haunts me, and so I cannot endorse anyone's search for a "better" method of state-sanctioned murder.

9 years ago

I think life in the roughest jail is worse than being put to death. But I believe that after they do most of there life in jail, like once they get to about 70 to 80 years old, I think they should be killed the way they had killed there victims. If they raped someone, then they should be raped by the most painful instrument. If they stabbed someone, then they should be stabbed. And so on. And to the family members, I believe they should be asked if they would like to take part in the killing of the bad guy.

Gaia O'Dea
9 years ago

No...if one if pro capital punishment then of course dying in a state of eurphoria is not going to win for so many reasons. That few die this way, that is, in a state of euphoria, of course this would go against just about everyone, including ME, who is ANTI capital punishment. I mean, sure if all of us got to die this way...great...but for those who have committed some awful crime to be able to look forward to dying in ecstasy...this is silly. As i said before..murdering murderers is WRONG to begin with so the whole pt is moot so far as i am concerned.

10 years ago

"Rather a hundred guilty men go free than to convict one who is innocent of the charges". I can't remember who said that quote, but it's the very essence of the greatest conundrum of the criminal justice system. Statistics show that capital punishment doesn't deter the extreme offenders, therefore it's use as a deterrent, is unjustified. Strange as it seems, there have been people who, for whatever reason, have confessed to committing serious crimes, for which they were found guilty, and incarcerated. In those cases, however, it was eventually discovered that the accused were, in fact, not even remotely involved with their said crime. Capital punishment would have doomed those innocent (albeit head-messed) people to death in those cases and in turn, the guilty party would have most likely gone free. Hence, the basis of the eternal debate which has haunted the scholars who seek effective social
"justice" for the rest of us. Reform versus punishment. We can't "fix" them all via reform,
and punishment doesn't always deter recidivism. If u r into provocatively deep
"mind candy" movies, check out Stanley Kubric's, 'A Clockwork Orange',
as it explores this very conundrum. A warning though, it is rather
haunting experience and not for the faint of heart, but definitely worth
the watch! Reactively, i am all for elimination of the Bundys, the Dahmers and etc, ideally by using the same methods that they themselves used on their victims. Morally tho, i know that whoever administered that punishment, would in fact, have to be as deranged as the offender, and THAT thought leaves a nasty taste in my mouth!

11 years ago

Why not go the Dr. Harold Shipman way, and just give them an OD of heroin for f--ks sake??? Or and OD of morphine or some cocktail of benzos and opiates and barbiturates, and there you have it - blissful death. I don't understand why people haven't thought of that. I'm gonna go to the people responsible for this **** and propose my heroin OD idea.

11 years ago

As the presenter said " the subject of execution is entirely subjective". Why not try using Scopolamine? After that, any method would be fine.

11 years ago

whats the point of killing criminals in most humane way lol? they should be killed as slow and painfull as possible

Ferdia OBrien
11 years ago

The death penalty is wrong, period. The state does not have the right to decide who lives and dies. That is the ultimate power.

11 years ago

The most sad and affecting thing was when I saw those poor innocent animals being experimented on and killed.

Nikica Duki?
11 years ago

The guy at the en only showed what people really are when it comes to it, a bloodthirsty mob, the worst kind of animals.
Personaly the guy at the end deserves to die as same as the criminal he wants to see dying in pain.

Kim Loasby
11 years ago

execution, no matter how humane is wrong. There have been a number of cases where it has later been proven that an innocent person has been put to death. This is always a possibility.
An eye for an eye is a childish way to view crime and punishment,

11 years ago

I have to agree with previous posts when I say that I do not care if executions are done using the most "humane" technique. The victims of these murderers were not given humane deaths. Those seeking the most humane death are either anti-death penalty advocates that are looking to dismantle capital punishment but "proving" than none of the methods are humane or they are death penalty apologists who feel guilty about executing people but publicly support it.

11 years ago

The trouble is most criminals have a chemical imbalance in their brain or lack emotions , this is why a psychopathic person can watch some one suffer and feel no remorse.
Until we find out how the Brain work we will have this problem.
Bernie Madoff is one he felt no remorse for the damage he has done just like out politicians.

11 years ago

who cares about criminals having the least painful execution... they are scums of the earth.. i have no pity for them.. they shouldn't even have a last meal before they die...

11 years ago

Guys, i am a sml time farmer with a normal job. I raise pigs, chooks and cattle. Not a big deal, no money made, kill to feed family only.
all bullshit aside a bullet well placed is as humane as you can get. Do it quick clean and respectfully.

11 years ago

I feel most sorry for the animals that they are using(and have used- that poor elephant), who were innocent and have done nothing to deserve this treatment

11 years ago

I feel most sorry for the pig.

11 years ago

and yeah, go on!!! do your research how to kill humanly bloody inocent prisoners on guilty little bunnies! shame!!! ;(

11 years ago

Do you realy want to execute a prisoner who brutaly raped, tortured, or killed your teen daughter, your child, your gilfriend, husband, mother or father.... someone who didnt give a monkey about their human rights... Do you realy want someone like this to die painless and human death... ????
Me personaly, I would torture them , cut and burn them slowly!! make them suffer!!! they deserve it!! they made their choice when they chosen to kill or commit crime! are they mentaly unstable? doesnt matter..
surely, i think the best way for criminal to understand what he ve done, to punish him is to let him alive, in very strict prison for life with minimal contact with other people !!! but unfortunately in this case that would be the taxpayer who would pay for his stay in prison. so, Kill them !!! i dont care.

Bianca Britt
11 years ago

how bout we reform them not kill them ?

11 years ago

I'm a fine upstanding gentleman and the Guillotine is a French invention.. ugh.. so let's just not talk about that shall we..

Too rediculous. Giving us a bit of car-crash curiosity fodder in guise of a 'respectable' doc then out of respect for our high 'sensibilities' and 'taste' dear saintly viewer, sparing you any gory old decapitations.

Whining hipocrisy.

The pro capital punishment guy at the end put the hipocrites right in their place. Let's not be coy, capital punishment is about revenge -- he's right out there saying it. If he had his way there would be rack and hot pincers on every death row in 24/7 use. And he'd be damned right. In the interests of honesty you either make the death sentence a torture to fit what was inflicted by the criminal, true to the need for revenge expressed in its continuance as a social norm or you totally do away with it. It''s that simple. This search for the 'perfect painless method' is creepy and horrible even beyond any torture and stinks of even worse duplicity (measured out through the oh-so-concerned teeth of some white neoliberal creeping jesus) than what a criminal is accused of when he breaks the social contract. Social hipcrisy is the killer here, more than the convicted even.

11 years ago

i just came for the title muhahaha...

*oh.. the humanity!*

11 years ago

One word: guillotine.

I suppose if dignity matters, then hypoxia is a surefire route, but if it were me that was about to be executed I'd take the French standard over the others in a heartbeat.

11 years ago

I find it the height of absurdity that, without exception, those who claim any form of execution is painless are still among the living.

11 years ago

I'm staunchly against the death penalty because I believe that the legal system, on a fundamental level, should be for removing dangers from society rather than punishing offenders. Otherwise we're a society based on revenge. By killing someone, we're removing the possibility of correcting mistakes and imprisonment for life still achieves the same goal while leaving that option open.

That being said, I don't understand why executions don't just use carbon monoxide. It's quick, painless, and doesn't produce gore or unpleasant reactions.

11 years ago

Also the guy at the end was sort of correct in my view.
Although i think the sentences should be carried out much quicker rather than letting them wait years before they are executed.... then again that is also part of the punishment too i think... the torment of not knowing.

If the method of execution was so painless and euphoric than it is possible that more people would be on death row.
The "Chair" and the "Chamber" are also there to entice fear into the populace, it makes normal people think twice about killing.

11 years ago

Hypoxia looked okay. How about heroin overdosing? or Alcohol poisoning?
Id prefer those 3 than hydrogen cyanide... at least there would be some kind of a "buzz".
Assuming i was in the position of being executed and choosing the method that is.

11 years ago

The guy in the end is sooo wrong. he says "punishment at its root should be painful"
death => punishment
pain => another punishment
so he is saying they should be punished twice?... thats not justice
get it?

cause when the prisoner is given the death sentence...thats his punishment!...DEATH
when u make it a PAINFUL death then its...two punishments

12 years ago

what about the guy in switzerland that offers the "legal euthanasia". Watching the doco on him made me feel he had the process down painlessly and humanely. Drink two solutions....BAM dead in the chair?

12 years ago

Great documentary! The expert at the end surprised me with his opinion, he spoke with such conviction. He truly believed that people sentenced to death should experience some form of pain in their last minutes of life--it's justice.

It's shocking to think that a man of such education and expertise would have such an opinion. Makes you think about how deluded other people in power really are.

Anyways, i think Michael's response, that the gov't should make a death sentence look as little like murder as possible, be as human as possible, should be the standard for any country using the death penalty. But like Mike said, it's all subjective.

12 years ago

better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer

12 years ago

Beyond a reasonable doubt is, I think, a key issue here, however, this means a great deal of debate over points of law and I am certainly not qualified to enter that argument, however, I have to disagree regarding revenge killing.

It can be extremely hard to get closure on the death of a loved one if you must also live with the fact the murderer/torturer/rapist/etc will some day go free. This is tantamount to torture in itself.

Knowing that the perpetrator at least will be unable to ever harm another can mean a great deal to those who have lost everything.

His Forever
12 years ago

Very interesting doc. Not sure what all my thoughts are on the subject. I could be persuaded either way I think. I try to put myself in the victim's family's position. Like they said on the end, a painless execution may NOT be the best form of execution. Opinions?

Fuad Becic
12 years ago

very good documentary. Personally I am against the death penalty, but if society is insistent on keeping it, the best execution would be a painless one. Revenge for a victim will quite honestly not make them feel better. Your loved ones are still dead the only difference is that the killer is dead too. Honestly its just barbaric in every sense.

12 years ago

Have to say, I'm in awe of the utter barbarity and thoughtlessness of people who, in this day and age, cannot get past the idea of killing criminals in cold blood for revenge. You can give these people all the stats you like, they will say it makes us safer, not true, it makes you less safe b/c hundreds of millions are spent on essential legal costs for only a handful of crimes. Most murderers do not get the death penalty, only for capital crimes. Then there's serial killers like the Green River killer who got life, so it is done in an arbitrary way. How does that make you safer? If you are capable of rational thought, then you would prefer PREVENTION to revenge killing.

Spend that money on better policing which has the effect of preventing ALL crimes, not just capital crimes, making everyone safer. That's the reason that wherever the death penalty has been abolished, murderers and crime in general has gone down.

But people continue to be emotional about this issue, instead of looking at the facts, it's as if they are so blinded by emotion, anger and lust for revenge that they cannot think rationally. The truth is, it becomes plainly obvious that those who are all for killing prisoners in cold blood, really do not have a clear understanding of the issues, or if they are given these facts, they cling to their knee jerk reactions anyway. Which is a shame. This is a blight on any country that continues to live in medieval times, but especially the only Western nation who still practices it, while everyone else has modernised. The US, and even there not every state has it and it is slowly being phased out, state by state.

12 years ago

GOOD ! I hope they do feel the pain and as much as their victm's. No one even considers what their victm's have went through. Usually they do give Phenobarb or a sedative 1st. We use the pancuronium prior to intubation in the hospital. Actually a bullet 2 the head would be the most affordable and it would be painless ! Not much 2 it ! I say line up all the VIOLENT prisoners and shoot every other one, but then again that ruin the revenue and decrease the size of prisons wouldnt it? If they get an innocent one once in awhile so be it. If it was me I'd accept it in order to create a safe society !

12 years ago

at the end of the day, capital punishment is still a form of revenge, dictated by a random group of people with no knowledge of what that person was really like.
It just all still seems abit primitive to me.

12 years ago

I don't understand for the life of me why they just don't give them an injection of pentobarbital or nembutal. I mean really, its used for the purposes of euthanasia in Europe. If you can find a way to humanely put to death a terminally ill patient then why is it so damn hard to find a human way to put to death a criminal?

12 years ago

outstanding documentary

12 years ago

I'm a recovering heroin addict, and in 2010 i actually overdosed and was clinicaly dead for 8min until the paramedics arived and injected me with narcan. and to tell you the truth it was exactly like falling asleep. i dont like sharing it, but since i cleaned up in november im not embarresed to say. i really dont remember anything past injecting and puting my belt back on, everything after that is blank until the narcan hit me, and i propped up like the exorcist wondering why im so cold! lol. but on some real shit, that would be the solution to a pain free death, and if their worried about not having docs around to inject, russia has developed an aresol analouge of fentanyl thats 1000 times more potent that heroin and 100 times more potent that fentenyl. they actually used it on the opera house terrorist hostage crisis in checheya. look it up.