Burning at the Stake

Ohio has introduced a lethal injection protocol as cruel and unusual as “burning at the stake, crucifixion, and breaking on the wheel” (examples of punishments which the US constitution forbids as cruel and unusual). The state is emboldened by a shocking US Supreme Court ruling out of Oklahoma, which allowed midazolam as an anesthetic for executions, even though the drug is not approved as an anesthetic for surgery.

In a dissent to the Oklahoma ruling, Justice Sotomayor explained why the majority justices were wrong to base their decision on the testimony of that state’s witness, Dr Evans:
‘Dr Evans’ testimony… [is] entirely unsupported by any study or third-party source,… inconsistent with the scientific understanding of midazolam’s properties, and apparently premised on basic logical errors… [The court’s ruling] leaves petitioners exposed to what may well be the chemical equivalent of being burned at the stake.’*

This barbaric ruling is being embraced by other US states, including Ohio.

To make things worse, Ohio wants the provenance of lethal injection drugs to remain secret, thus preventing inmates from challenging the use of those drugs in any meaningful way.

USA citizens are accustomed to hearing condemnation for brutish and uncivilized punishments in faraway lands: cutting off the hand of a thief is rightly deplored. Unless a hearing held this week prevents it, Ohioans may soon be made responsible for a punishment that is more brutal still.

*Glossip v. Gross, June 29, 2015, Justice Sotomayor’s dissent, pp 97 – 111
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