Courts Taking Second Look at Lethal Injection

Lethal injection is widely believed to be the most humane way to kill. We've written several times about how the comination of drugs is proving to be anything but humane. Now, courts are joining the fray and beginning to give lethal injection a new look, including restrictions that prevent the execution witnesses from viewing the entire process:

The three-judge appeals court ruled that no lethal injection can go forward until the department revises its procedures for the news media and officials witnesses, or explains why its planned restrictions are needed. "Contemporary and evolving standards of decency and morality are not reliably developed in a vacuum and under sanitized conditions, but rather should be based on an appreciation by the community of just what is involved, in human terms and in terms of decency, in the state's putting a person to death," Appellate Division Judge Sylvia Pressler wrote.

....critics say the seemingly serene death that lethal injection induces can be an illusion. They contend the procedures are designed to keep witnesses from ever seeing the steps that are most likely to be botched -- notably the search for a suitable vein -- and that the drugs used make it impossible to tell whether the inmate is peacefully drifting into death or chemically paralyzed and unable to convey his agony.

Other problems include the "cut down procedure"--where, particularly in the case of former I-V addicts, there is a problem with finding a vein:

The cut-down procedure is archaic, cruel and inhumane," said Katherine Louise Lippert, a Birmingham lawyer who represents five Alabama physicians who filed a friend-of-the-court brief. "They're just carving up someone's arm until they find a vein."

There's lots more, go read the whole thing. [link via How Appealing]

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