source: The Independent
published: 16 April 2016
The creeping death of capital punishment in America is now becoming as ghoulish as the death penalty itself.
No longer is the debate about the basic merits of a practice that has been abolished either de jure or de facto by three quarters of the countries on the planet. It’s about whether the companies and pharmacies that provide the drugs used for lethal injection – in effect the sole method of execution used here – should have their identities protected by law to spare them public protest and commercial embarrassment.
Take the latest convoluted turn of events in Virginia. This one-time cornerstone of the Confederacy has traditionally been an enthusiastic practitioner of capital punishment.
But Virginia’s “machinery of death” – to use the term coined by Harry Blackmun, the great Supreme Court justice who in the 1990s turned from acquiescence to outright opposition to the death penalty – is now paralysed by the difficulty of obtaining the drugs, and by the arguments over a “shield” law for suppliers.