USA. LETHAL INJECTION, REVEALED
April 29, 2007: the Boston Globe Newspaper published an editorial in which it criticised the methods of execution and called for the abolition of the death penalty. The following is an extract:
"Though nearly all industrial democracies have abolished the death penalty, it survives in the United States. The era of public hangings is long over, replaced by an impersonal, well-guarded process that minimizes discomfort for the executioners and the public. But this decades-long effort to make executions seem merely clinical- culminating in the rise of lethal injection as the dominant method of execution-- does not mean that prisoners are being put to death in a humane manner.
An analysis of executions in California and North Carolina published in PLoS Medicine indicates that the three-drug combination generally used in lethal injections can result in a painful process of asphyxiation, during which a prisoner may be conscious.
That possibility is heightened when technicians bungle the procedure. The study strips away the medical veneer and offers strong evidence that lethal injection violates the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Methods capable of causing near-instantaneous deaths, such as guillotines and firing squads, have been rejected as stomach-turning.
The electric chair, a method conceived as a quick, mechanical alternative, has proved repulsive in practice, and the brutality of lethal injection is becoming ever clearer, too.
The debate over the death penalty in America should not hinge on whether the final agonies caused by any particular execution method are unconstitutionally painful. There are many other reasons why the death penalty should be abolished: It does not deter crime; it is applied unevenly across jurisdictions and demographic groups; it is irrevocable, and the dozen-odd death row inmates exonerated by DNA evidence underscore the danger of executing the innocent. But broader support for capital punishment surely relies on the perception that prisoners go to their deaths painlessly.
This latest study tells states not to kid themselves; taking lives in the public's name can never be rendered quick or clean.â (Sources: BostonGlobe, 29/04/2007)