Doug Bowser said:
PS: Why do they sterilize needles for lethal injection?
I feel pretty certain that this question was posed rhetorically, but what the heck, I might as well go for a trifecta of posts... Besides, there may be someone that was actually wondering.
I think first it should be noted that the needles are not so much sterilized as an affirmative step but rather come from the package new and "pre-sterilized." So the question might actually be more appropriately posed as "Why do they use new (or sterilized) needles for lethal injection?"
There are several reasons, actually. Since it is routine medical procedure for needles to be sterlized during manufacture, they would effectively have to "go out of their way" to get used or non-sterilized needles. It would also be a hazard to the personnel administering the execution to use such non-sterilized equipment, as accidental sticks do occur in the medical field.
Finally, the lethal injection is not carried out with a syringe in one fell swoop, so to speak. IV lines are put into both arms and a saline drip is started. Then, at the appropriate time, the drugs are given, often in a set sequence. Since the IV lines are placed ahead of time, there is a chance that the prisoner could receive a stay of execution after the IVs had been inserted. This actually happened in the case of James Autry in Texas in 1983, although he was eventually executed the next year. Nevertheless, there is a possibility of a last minute stay or even pardon, so risking exposingthe the prisoner to an infection would not be a good idea.