Even as other methods of execution—electric chairs, firing squads, gas chambers and the hangman’s noose—fall out of use, lethal injection (a combination of chemicals inserted intravenously), the preferred method in the 35 states where capital punishment is legal, is now being questioned. In Ohio last month, the state tried unsuccessfully to execute Romell Broom, who was convicted of raping and murdering a 14-year-old girl in 1984. Over two hours, the inmate eventually was stuck 18 times with a needle, including once inadvertently in a bone near his ankle, causing him to cry out in pain, according to court documents. Maryland has suspended its use of the death penalty while a state commission reviews whether lethal injection causes undue pain and whether prison staff are sufficiently trained to carry out the process. Two other states, California and North Carolina, also have suspended lethal injection while the procedure is reviewed, effectively imposing a moratorium on the death penalty in those states. Still, many supporters of the death penalty reject the notion that pain or discomfort caused during execution is grounds to change the process. “For a defendant to argue that it’s cruel because they feel a little pain during the execution process is absurd,” says Steven Stewart, the prosecuting attorney for Clark County, Ind.
Stop lethal injection, say critics—it hurts too much
American states reconsidering their death penalty mechanism of choice
FILED UNDER: Crime