The Supreme Court ruled today in Glossip v. Gross that the use of midazolam as part of lethal injection protocols is constitutional.
Midazolam is a sedative that—according to the petitioners—“cannot reliably ensure the ‘deep, comalike unconsciousness’ required where a State intends to cause death with painful drugs.’” A paralytic is then injected, making it impossible to tell if the prisoner is experiencing extreme pain upon administration of the final drug that stops the heart. This is where the argument of cruel and unusual punishment enters the debate.
Diann Rust-Tierney, Executive Director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty issued the following statement on today's ruling:
“Today, the Supreme Court ruled that using a cocktail of illegal drugs, which has been proven to cause torture in the prisoners to whom it’s been administered, as a form of execution, is not ‘cruel or unusual’ punishment.
“It’s hard to imagine what could be crueler than a prolonged, torturous death, or more unusual, given that 80% of the executions in the United States last year took place in just 3 states.
“The death penalty is on the outs, with even conservative states like Nebraska outlawing the policy. Yet that message clearly hasn’t risen up to the highest Court in the land. That means our work is far from done.
“Death penalty opponents from all walks of life must recommit ourselves to ensuring that policymakers, attorneys and, yes, the Supreme Court understand America doesn’t want or need the death penalty any more. That’s exactly the goal of the 90 Million Strong campaign, and the reason we feel confident that one day, not one more American will be put to death by the government.”
The fact remains that the death penalty does not enhance public safety; every day it exists it risks executing the innocent and it perpetuates racial bias and unfairness in a way that takes our country backwards.
We must continue to join together to speak up and do the work necessary to make sure that this archaic, barbaric, wasteful and unfair practice is abolished.
Read the full decision at: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/14-7955_aplc.pdf
The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty has created the 90 Million Strong Campaign to unite the voices of those who believe the death penalty is wrong. We need to demonstrate that the broad public support to end this practice is already here in America, and 90 million people speaking up can make a difference.