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May 7, 2014

Re: Medicalizing Executions

Sullum on "A Lethal Injection of Reality."

Jacob Sullum: “There are some obvious fixes that would make headline-grabbing fiascos like [Clayton] Lockett’s prolonged death less likely. Better training of the technicians who carry out lethal injections would help, and so would simplification of Oklahoma’s needlessly complicated protocol, which calls for three drugs when one large dose of a barbiturate such as sodium thiopental would do. But if preventing unnecessary pain is the goal, it is hard to improve on the firing squad or the guillotine. Such old-fashioned methods were abandoned not because they were too painful, but because they were too bloody. As Lockett’s execution vividly demonstrated, those two concerns are distinct. One has to do with how a condemned prisoner feels as we kill him; the other has to do with how we feel about killing him. Medicalizing executions helps us avoid the latter question.”

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