December 14, 2009
There Is No ‘Humane’ Execution
This is what passes for progress in the application of the death penalty: Kenneth Biros, a convicted murderer, was put to death in
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted, in a dissenting opinion in a death penalty case last year, that critics have charged that the three-drug cocktail poses a serious risk that the inmate will suffer severely. The one-drug method was not used before last week on human beings, and
The larger problem, however, is that changing a lethal-injection method is simply an attempt, as Justice Harry Blackmun put it, to “tinker with the machinery of death.” No matter how it is done, for the state to put someone to death is inherently barbaric.
It has also become clear — particularly since DNA evidence has become more common — how unreliable the system is. Since 1973, 139 people have been released from death row because of evidence that they were innocent, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
An untold number of innocent people have also, quite likely, been put to death. Earlier this year, a fire expert hired by the state of
Most states still have capital punishment, and the Obama administration has so far shown a troubling commitment to it, pursuing federal capital cases even in states that do not themselves have the death penalty.
Earlier this year,