For-profit company behind the execution of Troy Davis

STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 10/12/2011, 6:19 p.m.
For-profit company behind the execution of Troy Davis

When Troy Davis was murdered by the state of Georgia last week, it was not a nameless, faceless bureaucrat who oversaw his execution.

It was Dr. Carlo Musso, who owns CorrectHealth, a for-profit company that provides what they call "cost effective" health care to prisoners, who managed the process. He does this work under the umbrella of another company he owns, Rainbow Medical Associates, which, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, is contracted by the Georgia Department of Corrections to do its executions.

While some may defend Rainbow Medical Associates as capitalism in action, Musso might find himself in a heap of trouble-of the legal kind-that could do more damage than the backlash from the Davis execution.

Earlier this year, the Southern Center for Human Rights filed a complaint against CorrectHealth, accusing them of illegally importing and distributing sodium thiopental, the drug they use in carrying out the execution of convicted felons.

"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 of the attorney general," read a SCHR release several months ago.

"Since the spring of 2010, there has been a nationwide shortage of sodium thiopental, one of the 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.

"The Georgia Department of Corrections secured its supply from a London-based pharmaceutical supplier [Dream Pharma] that operated out of the back of a driving school," continued the release. "In March 2011, the Drug Enforcement Authority seized Georgia's supply amid questions about how the drug was imported into the United States."

Sodium thiopental is imported from the United Kingdom by American states that use the drug exclusively for carrying out the death penalty. But last year, in an effort to quell its distribution, based on their opinion that executions are inhumane, the U.K. government issued an order requiring those supplying the drug to Americans to obtain an export license first.

If it's found that the drug's exportation is for the sole purpose of executions or that there is the risk of it being used thus, the license will be denied. Due to the shortage, it's been alleged that Musso and Rainbow Medical Associates went through other means to acquire the drug.

"Dr. Musso's company, CorrectHealth, also purchased and imported a supply of sodium thiopental from Dream Pharma," read the SCHR statement. "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."

So the Davis case isn't only an exercise in race, class and the American justice system, it's also an exercise in capitalism-four things that all too often find the means to collaborate.