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Lethal Injection Is Another 'Failed Experiment'

Lethal injection is another 'failed experiment' that 'has a corrosive effect on the medical profession,' says Amnesty International

Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA, released the following statement regarding the 25th anniversary (on December 7) of lethal injection administered in the Unites States:

"In the past 25 years, the United States has carried out 929 executions by lethal injection. These include numerous botched executions that contradict the notion of a gentle death. Various autopsies have revealed severe, foot-long chemical burns, collapsed veins and multiple puncture marks on the skin. In some cases executions have lasted up to an hour, with prisoners visibly gasping for air or convulsing in visible pain.

"Texas was the first state to use lethal injection with the December 7, 1982 execution of Charlie Brooks. Since then almost half of such executions have been carried out in Texas, where the chemical mix has been used to put 405 human beings to death. Ironically, in 2003 Texas passed a law prohibiting the use of this very same cocktail to euthanize cats and dogs--a ban that exists in law or in practice throughout most of the country. If this procedure is unacceptable for pets, clearly it is unacceptable for human beings.

"Furthermore, lethal injection has a corrosive effect on the medical profession, which finds itself reluctantly conscripted to play a lead role in state-sanctioned killing. Health professionals who have sworn to do no harm and to sustain human life are mired in an ethical morass when they must participate in a process that extinguishes it.

"In January the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments to determine if lethal injection constitutes 'cruel and unusual punishment.' Amnesty International maintains that lethal injection is a failed experiment designed to make the death penalty seem more sanitized and humane. At its core, this system is arbitrary, capricious, racially biased and includes the very real potential of executing the innocent. It exacts a toll on all involved and can never be humane."

For more information on Amnesty International's work on the death penalty, please see:


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