Recent horrifying botched executions are the results of increasingly risky state practices. Too often, states have been allowed to conduct executions cloaked in secrecy and free of public and judicial scrutiny, to rely on drugs from unknown and untested sources, and to employ personnel of unknown and unverifiable qualifications—with disastrous results. This pattern should be unacceptable in a civilized society dedicated to transparency and the rule of law.
Indeed, every known method of carrying out executions is barbaric and consists of unjustified retribution, from death on the gallows to death by lethal injection. The traditional method of death by hanging was also easily bungled: If the drop was too short, there would be a slow and agonizing death by strangulation; if the drop was too long, the individual’s head would be torn off. Electrocution was equally horrific: Bodies would jolt, smoke, burn, and bleed as the voltage was raised and lowered. The modern practice of lethal injection purports to be more humane, but as recent prolonged, painful executions in Oklahoma and Arizona prove, these claims are simply unfounded.
There is no method of killing a human being that is consistent with our constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment.