source: BBC Future
published: 6 June 2018
The lethal injection brought an end to the macabre executions of the past. But after a string of botched deaths, its humanity is being brought into question. Is there another option?
His last words were “I love you”, followed by a Muslim prayer. Then Charles Brooks Jr – a convicted murderer – looked away from his girlfriend and felt death creep in.
He was lying on a white stretcher, dressed head-to-toe in typical 80’s fashion, including gold pants and a shirt with all the buttons open. He had an intravenous line in one arm and doctors hovered nearby. The man could have been a hospital patient.
Instead, his final moments were spent in the death chamber at a Texas prison. It was 1982 and this was the first time the lethal injection had been used to kill a criminal in the United States.
Before this pioneering moment, the nation’s favourite mode of execution was the electric chair, which is today widely regarded as torture. It was so violent, sometimes the victim’s eyeballs would pop out and rest on their cheeks. It regularly set hair on fire, leading guards to stash extinguishers nearby, just in case.