Ohio State Law Journal
execution, electrocution, lethal injuction, capital punishment, death penalty, Eighth Amendment
This article discusses the paradoxical motivations and problems behind legislative changes from one method of execution to the next, and particularly moves from electrocution to lethal injection. This article first examines the constitutionality of electrocution, contending that a modern Eighth Amendment analysis of a range of factors, such as legislative trends toward lethal injection, indicates that electrocution is cruel and unusual. It then provides an Eighth Amendment review of lethal injection, demonstrating that injection also involves unnecessary pain, the risk of such pain, and a loss of dignity. The article next presents the author's study of the most current protocols for lethal injection in all thirty-six states where anesthesia is used for a state execution. The study focuses on a number of criteria contained in many protocols that are key to applying an injection. The study emphasizes that the criteria in many protocols are far too vague to assess adequately. When the protocols do offer details, such as the amount and type of chemicals that executioners inject, they oftentimes reveal striking errors and ignorance about the procedure. Such inaccurate or missing information heightens the likelihood that a lethal injection will be botched and suggests that states are not capable of executing an inmate constitutionally. Even though executions have become increasingly hidden from the public, and therefore more politically palatable, they have not become more humane, only more difficult to monitor.
Deborah W. Denno,
When Legislatures Delegate Death: The Troubling Paradox Behind State Uses of Electocution and Lethal Injection and What It Says about Us, 63 Ohio St. L.J. 63
Available at: https://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/faculty_scholarship/118