Lethal injection ‘okay’

May 3, 2008 in news by Emma

So, does anyone remember last year when the US Supreme Court were reviewing claims that the lethal injection, which is supposed to induce a painless death by using sodium thiopental as an anaesthetic, was actually causing a lot of painful deaths? The argument, put forward by Amnesty, (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7027305.stm) is that the sodium thiopental does not always work, and as the injection also includes a chemical which causes muscle paralysis, the victims cannot express their pain. This is apparently an “unconstitutionally cruel” punishment.

So, the Supreme Court considered this (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7013333.stm), and executions were put on hold.

Well, they’re back. Three weeks ago the Supreme Court ended the halt in lethal injections, and according to this article in the International Herald Tribune (http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/05/03/america/execute.php) the US is, and I quote, “moving to clear the backlog of executions”.

Does this horrify anyone else? The Supreme Court had a chance to change the American stance on the death penalty, to bring the US out of its barbaric customs and into the present with the rest of the so-called developed world, and it just … didn’t.

“The Supreme Court essentially blessed their way of doing things,” said Douglas Berman, a professor of law and a sentencing expert at Ohio State University. “So in some sense, they’re back from vacation and ready to go to work.”


Some welcome the end of the moratorium.

“We’ll start playing a little bit of catch-up,” said William Hubbarth, a spokesman for Justice for All, a Houston-based victims rights group.

“It’s not like we have a cheering section for the death penalty.” Hubbarth, an Austin lawyer, said. But he added: “The capital murderers set to be executed should be executed post-haste. It’s not about killing the inmate. It’s about imposing the penalty that 12 of his peers have assessed.”

Yes. You don’t sound morbidly enthusiastic at all.

This at a time when “a recent wave of exonerations after DNA tests proved wrongful conviction.”. They didn’t do it! We have no idea how many people have been wrongfully executed and are set to be wrongfully executed, and this in the US of A, home of the brave, land of the free, supposedly one of the civilised countries.

Go and read that article in the IHT. And then, scroll down this page a bit and look at rachie’s post on China’s human rights situations. Read about the problems there. Sound familiar at all?

We need to realise that in many ways, the USA is no better than China. To all of those in the US who are expressing outrage over the offences in China – look to your own country. Look to Texas where there are 360 men and 9 women on death row – more of a ‘death compound’ as the IHT article jokes. You know what? I don’t think it’s funny. This has to stop, and not in twenty, thirty, fifty years, but now.