Death sentences in some US states by lethal injection has come under heavy criticism as a barbaric act and the clamour is up for its legal review by the apex court, reports Global Post. The latest trigger is the protests that followed after a convict struggled in agony for almost two hours to breathe his last after the botched execution.
Convicted killer Joseph Wood gasped and snorted as he lay on a gurney for two hours after officials from the US state of Arizona injected him with an untested lethal drug cocktail.
News of the botched deaths also tarnished the international reputation of United States. According to Richard Dieter, who heads the Death Penalty Information Center lethal injection is unacceptable and is a torture on a gurney where the person struggles for hours to die. Opponents of capital punishment also endorse the view that lengthy executions are torture and forbidden by the US Constitution.
Steven Hall, head of a legal rights pressure group opposing capital punishment wanted the Supreme Court to get involved in examining the issue. In the US Capital punishment is practised by the federal government and some states. But 18 states have banished death penalty.
Shortage of Execution Drug
The main reason for the botched executions that add agony to convicts is the acute shortage of the lethal drug cocktail. The cocktail is a mixture of sedative mid-azolam and hydromorphone. But European manufacturers have halted the exports of such tried and tested drugs.
The US firms lack patents to produce lethal drugs and do not want their brands to court controversies. This leaves the states to rely on compounding pharmacies lacking federal approval to compose the drug mixtures for injection.
According to WSJ blogger Ashby Jones this is not the first time that a botched execution is stirring the power elite of USA following of a botched medical execution. The autopsy of convict Clayton Lockett executed in April showed that there was difficulty in placing the intravenous line into his body. The report of agony prompted President Obama to order a review of the process of death penalty in the U.S.
With the latest Joseph Wood episode more eminent people including federal judges have come forward with pointed criticisms about the way death penalty is administered and the need for a relook.