source: The Hill
published: 28 December 2016
Most debate over the death penalty addresses whether or not it should ever be carried out.
Until the death penalty is abandoned or declared unconstitutional, however, there is an equally important debate we need to have over the methods we allow state officials to use in executing a condemned prisoner.
A society’s choice of execution methods says as much about its values as does the endorsement of capital punishment itself. But as recent executions in Arizona and elsewhere have shown, the reality of an execution is uncomfortable. Nearly all of us look away, trusting that the executions conducted in America will be humane. We shouldn’t.
The Supreme Court has long acknowledged the principle that it would be unconstitutional during an execution to inflict torturous pain. But in Glossip v. Gross, a deeply divided 5-4 decision issued in 2015, the Court concluded it was unable, due to procedural limits on its scope of review, to strike down a three-drug execution protocol that in reality does inflict such pain.