Capital Punishment Essay
David J. Phillip/Associated Press
Updated: April 15, 2011
The United States Supreme Court allowed states to reinstate capital punishment in 1976.
States are continuing a trend of executing fewer prisoners and juries are wary of sentencing criminal defendants to die, according to 2010 figures compiled by a group that opposes the death penalty.
The 46 executions in 2010 constituted a nearly 12 percent drop from the 52 in 2009, according to the group, Death Penalty Information Center, which produces an annual report on execution trends. The overall trend shows a marked drop when compared with the 85 executions in 2000.
Jurors, too, show a continuing preference for the alternative of punishing criminal …show more content…
Recently released documents emerging from lawsuits in many states reveal the intense communication among prison systems to help one another obtain sodium thiopental, and what amounts to a legally questionable swap club among prisons to ensure that each has the drug when it is needed for an execution.
In Texas, which carries out more executions than any other state, the controversy is focused on the proposed switch from sodium thiopental to pentobarbital.
The two drugs are barbiturates, but sodium thiopental has been commonly used as an anesthetic in hospitals. Pentobarbital has a few medical uses in humans, but is often used by veterinarians to anesthetize or euthanize animals. It has also been used in physician-assisted suicide in Oregon and in Europe.
Opponents of the death penalty object to either drug. Some say thiopental can wear off too quickly, allowing inmates to feel pain. Others object to using pentobarbital, because it is so infrequently used in humans.
A One-Drug Intravenous Lethal Injection
In 2009 Ohio prison officials executed a death row inmate, Kenneth Biros, with a one-drug intravenous lethal injection, a method never before used on a human.
Death penalty opponents have argued that Ohio's