Supreme Court Upholds Lethal Injection in Kentucky

April 16, 2008 12:00 am

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Procedure Is Cruel And Unusual Punishment, Says ACLU

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NEW YORK – The ACLU expressed disappointment with today’s 7-2 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the three drug lethal injection method of capital punishment used in Kentucky and other states.

The ACLU filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, Baze v. Rees, an appeal by two men on Kentucky’s death row. The ACLU argued that the controversial execution practice has been facilitated by the excessive secrecy surrounding the development and implementation of lethal injection protocols in most states.

The following can be attributed to ACLU Legal Director Steven R. Shapiro:

“The Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment was meant to embody evolving standards of decency. Properly understood, the standard should prohibit a method of execution that creates an unnecessary risk of excruciating pain. The Supreme Court today held otherwise and, in the process, upheld a lethal injection protocol that veterinarians in nearly half the states, including Kentucky, are prohibited from using when putting our pets to sleep.”

The following can be attributed to John Holdridge, Director of the ACLU Capital Punishment Project:

“Today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in no way addresses the most fundamental question surrounding the death penalty: should we retain a punishment that is fraught with error and infected with racial, class and geographic discrimination, and which is irrevocable, cost-prohibitive and extremely harmful to the survivors of homicide victims? The answer remains no.”

The ACLU’s friend-of-the-court brief in Baze v. Rees is online at:

More information on the work of the ACLU Capital Punishment Project is available at:

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