Lethal Injection Essays

It’s true that 19 states and the District of Columbia have already banned capital punishment, four have suspended it and eight others haven’t executed anyone in more than a decade.Some particularly awful state policies have also been eliminated in the past couple of years, like a Florida law that permitted non-unanimous juries to impose death sentences, and an Alabama rule empowering judges to override a jury’s vote for life, even a unanimous one, and impose death.Still, Texas was one of just two states — Arkansas is the other — responsible for almost half of 2017’s executions.

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That’s less than a quarter of the 98 executions carried out in 1999. As the nation enters 2018, the Supreme Court is considering whether to hear at least one case asking it to strike down the death penalty, once and for all, for violating the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishments.

Whether the justices take that or another case, the facts they face will be the same: The death penalty is a savage, racially biased, arbitrary and pointless punishment that becomes rarer and more geographically isolated with every year.

That is an unattainable goal, as should be obvious by now.

Perhaps this explains why Americans, whose support for capital punishment climbed as high as 80 percent in 1994, have increasingly lost their appetite for state-sanctioned killing.

Of the 23 people put to death in 2017, all but three had at least one of these factors, according to the report.

Eight were younger than 21 at the time of their crime. In 2017, four more people who had been sentenced to death were exonerated, for a total of 160 since 1973 — a time during which 1,465 people were executed.

The horrific execution of Clayton Lockett by lethal injection this spring in Oklahoma took an astonishing 43 minutes to complete.

Together with other botched killings, the incident has focused attention on the inexperience and incompetence that now accompanies many executions in America.

Last summer, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg suggested that the death penalty would eventually end with a whimper.

“The incidence of capital punishment has gone down, down, down so that now, I think, there are only three states that actually administer the death penalty,” Justice Ginsburg said at a law school event.


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