Sunday, November 04, 2007

Baze: Is Three Drug Cocktail Unconstitutional?

Here's how the New York Times has put the question:

The central question of Baze is: Does the Eighth Amendment bar an execution method that creates an unnecessary risk of pain and suffering, or does it merely protect inmates against the wanton infliction of pain and suffering?

If it’s the former, then the three-drug cocktail is probably unconstitutional, because states would not have a compelling reason to continue to use it. But if it’s the latter, then states could probably stick with the old deathly recipe, as long as someone on the execution team had the fortitude, after administering the first drug, to shake the inmate or look in his eyes, or otherwise make a passing attempt to see if the anesthetic took.

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