Ohio Under Attack For Cruel And Unusual Punishment

by wpadmin on January 28, 2014

Cruel and unusual punishment, which is strictly prohibited by the 8th Amendment to the United States Constitution, has been defined by the US Supreme Court as punishment that is too severe for the crime; that is arbitrary in nature; that offends society’s sense of justice; or that is less effective than a less severe form of penalty.  When it comes to cruel and unusual punishment, the Supreme Court has taught us that the death penalty itself, although an extreme sanction reserved for the most extreme crimes, is not inherently cruel.  We have also learned that various methods of putting people to death are not, in and of themselves, cruel, such as shooting, hanging, electrocution and lethal injection.  So if Dennis McGuire, who admitted to brutally raping and stabbing a pregnant woman in 1989, was recently put to death by lethal injection after all of his appeals ended after a jury demanded he be executed, what is the problem?  Apparently, McGuire’s family is not pleased with the fact that McGuire was administered a concoction of drugs never before used in the United States that took approximately 24 minutes to kill him, during which time he was seen gasping and snorting several times.  Opponents of the death penalty will certainly have new fodder for the debate.  But even proponents must acknowledge the interesting twist this case presents because of the never before used combination of drugs.  Apparently, the state of Ohio recently ran out of the tried and tested narcotic and sedative barbiturate known as pentobartbital and amended its execution policy to allow for the use of midazolam and hydromorphone, which is what was used in McGuire’s execution.  There are currently 138 men and 1 woman on death row in Ohio.  Not only will it be interesting to see the outcome of the McGuire case, it will also be interesting to see if any of the other 139 people are put to death with the same combination of drugs.

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