Submit ZIP Code

Got a Quick Question?

(120 characters remaining)
100% Anonymous. Free Answers.

Lethal Injection Method Upheld by the Supreme Court

By: Gerri L. Elder

April 16, 2008 was an important day for two inmates in Kentucky who have been sentenced to die for their crimes. Executions by lethal injection had been on hold in the United States for almost seven months, but the Supreme Court decided on the 16th that the three step procedure used to carry out the death penalty in Kentucky and many other states is humane and does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

After agreeing to hear the Kentucky case in September, the Supreme Court justices finally reached a decision and voted 7-2 to uphold the method of lethal injections most commonly used in the United States. Their decision means that execution by lethal injection will likely be resumed without any further delay. Prosecutors in several states have already indicated that they would seek new execution dates if the Supreme Court upheld the three-drug lethal injection method, according to a report by Law.com.

Death penalty opponents say that approximately 24 executions in the U.S. were put on hold while the Supreme Court reviewed the Kentucky case. More than 3,300 people are on death row in prisons across the country and 42 inmates were executed last year before executions by lethal injection were temporarily halted.

The two Kentucky death row inmates that brought the case that eventually made it to the Supreme Court did not ask for their lives to be spared. Their criminal defense attorneys argued against the three drug method used to carry out death sentences. The first of the three drugs is an anesthetic. The inmates argued that if the first drug failed, the second drug, which paralyzes, and the third drug, which causes death, could cause excruciating pain before the eventual death. In the event that the second and third drugs cause this pain, the inmate would be unable to let anyone know because they would at that point be paralyzed.

The inmates asked that the three-drug method of death by lethal injection be changed to a single painless barbiturate injection in a large enough dosage to cause death. No state has ever used the single drug method of lethal injection, however it is the method commonly used to euthanize animals.

Only one inmate in Kentucky has been executed by lethal injection. There were no apparent issues during that execution, but in Florida and Ohio, there have been lethal injection executions that took longer than expected and many believe that the inmates experienced extreme pain during the process.

While the Kentucky inmates lost their case and will likely be executed using the three-drug protocol, Justice John Paul Stevens believes this is far from the end of the debates about the constitutionality of the three-drug method of lethal injection executions, the use of the second drug that paralyzes the inmate and the death penalty in general. Stevens is likely correct as death penalty opponents are already planning their next move, which may involve challenges to the method of lethal injection executions in several other states.


PAID ATTORNEY ADVERTISEMENT: THIS WEB SITE IS A GROUP ADVERTISEMENT AND THE PARTICIPATING ATTORNEYS ARE INCLUDED BECAUSE THEY PAY AN ADVERTISING FEE. It is not a lawyer referral service or prepaid legal services plan. Total Criminal Defense is not a law firm. Your request for contact will be forwarded to the local lawyer who has paid to advertise in the ZIP code you provide. Total Criminal Defense does not endorse or recommend any lawyer or law firm who participates in the network. It does not make any representation and has not made any judgment as to the qualifications, expertise or credentials of any participating lawyer. No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers. The information contained herein is not legal advice. Any information you submit to Total Criminal Defense may not be protected by attorney-client privilege. All photos are of models and do not depict clients. All case evaluations are performed by participating attorneys. An attorney responsible for the content of this Site is Kevin W. Chern, Esq., licensed in Illinois with offices at 25 East Washington, Suite 510, Chicago, Illinois 60602. To see the attorney in your area who is responsible for this advertisement, please click here or call 866-200-8052.

FLORIDA ONLY: Total Criminal Defense is considered a lawyer referral service in the state of Florida under the Florida Rules of Professional Conduct. By all other standards, Total Criminal Defense is a group advertisement and not a lawyer referral service.

If you live in Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, New York or Wyoming, please click here