Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Lethal Injection: Are opponents pleased with Ohio procedure

On his blog Sentencing Law & Policy Douglas A. Berman, a law professor at Ohio State University, asked and answered whether opponents of lethal injection were pleased with the single drug execution carried out by the state of Ohio.

Does this development (the execution of Kenneth Biros by a single drug injection) really please any who complained vociferously about the old three-drug protocol? If any of the strenuous opposition to three-drug protocols was really focused only on possible suffering by the condemned while being executed, these opponents should be going out to celebrate tonight. But I have long suspected that most (if not all) vocal opponents of three-drug lethal injection protocols are categorical opponents of the death penalty more generally, and thus I suspect there will be little celebration within this crowd tonight.

There are many problems with today's death penalty. Much of it relates to intellectually dishonest arguments that are on the periphery of the fundamental issue: Should the state be carrying out executions?

I acknowledge that reasonable people can differ on the propriety of the death penalty. That should be the debate, not whether one drug or three is a better way to carry out an execution. Unfortunately, Ohio's successful one drug execution will not settle the argument.

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