As pharmaceutical makers stop providing the drugs for lethal injections, the debate over the death penalty has increased where capital punishment is still a chargeable crime. New lethal injection combinations have sparked controversies because they are not as effective as the older methods. That, however, has not stopped lethal injections from proceeding.
75% of Americans believe that states which have capital punishment laws on the books should be allowed to execute prisoners through lethal injection.
Lethal Injection Facts
Lethal injection still account for a vast majority of the executions that take place in the United States every year. Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, 1217 prisoners have been executed using lethal injection. No other method of execution comes close. Only 158 executions have been done through electrocution. After that, no other method of execution has more than 11 examples.
Does Lethal Injection Still Work?
- The cost of the present system of capital punishment in California is estimated to be $137 million per year.
- The cost of switching to a lifetime incarceration penalty would reduce these Californian costs by 90%.
- A 2003 legislative audit in Kansas found that the estimated cost of a death penalty case was 70% more than the cost of a comparable non-death penalty case.
- 77% of those executed for capital crimes murdered a white victim, even though more than half of all homicide victims are African-American.
- FBI data shows that the 18 states without capital punishment laws have homicide rates that are at or below national averages.
- Since 1976, there have been 138 executions listed as “volunteer” because of the length of time people were waiting for their execution date to be set.
- There are 60 people on Federal death row right now and national laws can charge a capital case even in states that have outlawed the practice.
Does lethal injection still work? As a functional practice, it does. When people are injected with a lethal combination of drugs, it will kill them. For all practical purposes, however, the death penalty is statistically shown to be ineffective. When violent crime rates are either equal or better in states that do not have the death penalty as an option for prosecutors, it shows that eliminating the death penalty should be a conversation that we have. It makes no sense to enforce the law that does not effectively deter crime. We should be looking at alternatives that could be more effective.
- Lethal injection is currently the preferred method of putting prisoners to death in 37 of the 38 states that have imposed the death penalty over recent history.
- Women [70%] are less likely than men [82%] to support the use of lethal injection.
- Racial minorities are much less likely to support the use of lethal injection than whites at 58% vs 80%.
- Liberals are less likely to support lethal injection (57%) than conservatives (81%).
- Japan is the only industrial democracy besides the United States that has the death penalty.
- Despite 60 prisoners on death row, the US government has only executed 3 convicted prisoners since 1976.
- There are currently 57 women on death row in the U.S. as of October 2014.
- Only 15 women have been executed since 1976.
The one problem that we have with lethal injection that falls outside of the drug combination is how it is applied. The United States justice system has killed more kids since 1976 for crimes that were committed at the age of 16 or 17 than women. It wasn’t until 2005 that the Supreme Court ruled the execution of juveniles as being unconstitutional. Lethal injection makes the entire death process seem gentle and painless. Maybe that’s why Americans tend to support it when almost every other industrialized nation that has a democracy style government does not. The breakdown of demographics to support lethal injection is also quite interesting. Although a majority of every demographic supports lethal injection, those with liberal tendencies tend to support life imprisonment more for reasons such as rehabilitation or a desire to eliminate the death penalty for good.
Facts You May Not Have Known About Lethal Injection
- The first authorized use of lethal injection as a form of legal execution occurred in the United States in 1982 in Texas.
- States use a variety of protocols based on their own laws that may involve using one, two, or three drugs.
- Lethal injection kills the person by first putting the person to sleep, and then stopping the breathing and heart in that order.
- Many states are refusing to identify drug makers of their lethal injection combinations because it is feared a public backlash against the companies could create shortages.
- The US Supreme Court voted 5-4 that a condemned prisoner does not need to know the source of the drugs used in his execution.
- Once you add liquid to sodium thiopental, it’s been reported to be stable for 24 hours or, if it’s kept cold, it can last for 7 days.
This is all about what the definition of justice means on an individual level. People who commit violent crime should be separated from society. That’s something that almost everyone agrees upon. What that separation looks like is where we disagree. Some believe that capital punishment is the best solution because it offers a permanent solution. Others see lethal injection and other forms of of the death penalty as cruel and unusual punishment. This is not a debate that is to go away anytime soon. Lethal injection is popular because it is the most affordable. Many states have alternative death penalty options, including electrocution, hanging, and even a firing squad in case lethal injection no longer viable. The statistics show that lethal injection does not deter crime. Because of this, a second look should be taken at the enforcement of it.