Lethal injection is problematic in that there are bound to be problems that might cause infliction of pain, torture and lingering death. One of the reasons for this is that the procedure was invented by an individual, Fred Leuchter, who had no medical training, and invented the method by reviewing literature on the effects that the protocol had on pigs and estimated accordingly. Although these recommendations have been discredited, they still form the basis for the protocol in “the overwhelmingly majority of states that use the death penalty” a development that caused Debra Denno, author of the most comprehensive report on death penalty protocols in the United States to state “it is not clear how or why this chemical combination has persisted” (Wong, 2006, p. 269). Another of the reasons why lethal injection may be considered to be cruel and unusual punishment is because of the way that it is carried out. Lethal injections are often botched, as there have been over 30 cases of such botched executions since the death penalty was reinstated by Gregg v. Georgia (Wong, 2006, p. 264). Specifically, medical personnel, personnel that would be trained to carry out lethal injection in such a way that it would be complication-free and painless, typically does not want to carry out the punishment. Approximately 19% of medical personnel do go ahead and do this, yet these individuals are met with opposition from medical societies (Denno, 2002, p. 2). After all, they take a Hippocratical Oath that states that they are not to do any harm, and administering lethal injection would be a direct contradiction to this basic oath. Therefore,...
As a consequence of the fact that medical personnel by and large are not able to participate in lethal injection protocols, there is a chance that the official who is administering the protocol will put the intravenous line into the muscle, as opposed to a vein, or the needle may become clogged. This would cause the inmate to experience extreme pain. For example, when James Autry was put to death in Texas in 1984, it took him 10 minutes to die, while he moved around and complained of pain. Moreover, because the technicians performing the protocol are inexperienced, it is sometimes difficult to find a good vein, and this is compounded when the inmate was an intravenous drug user. Such was the case with Steven Morin in Texas, who was a former heroin user, which caused the technician to have to stick Morin’s arms with needles 41 times.
Crucially, lethal injection consists of three different procedures – the first is the anesthetic; the second induces paralysis; the third causes death. The first of these procedures that is the most important is the administering of the anesthetic, for this is what causes the procedure to be pain-free. If a medical personnel is not administering the anesthetic, then it stands to reason that the anesthetic might not be administered properly, which means that the prisoner may feel excruciating pain in dying. Konarias et al. sought protocol information from Texas and Virginia, as these two states constituted 45% of all death penalty cases carried out in the United States.