Shortage of Execution Drugs Creates 8th Amendment Dilemma

Pentobarbital was used, primarily, for the purpose of lethal injection in America. However, the principal manufacturer of pentobarbital, Hospira, Inc., halted its production of pentobarbital in 2011. As a result, states that allow the death penalty are experiencing a shortage of lethal injection chemicals. The shortage has caused states, such as Ohio, to modify their lethal injection protocols, which has led to new quandaries that implicate the 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Counsel for the convicted murderer, Dennis McGuire of Ohio, argued recently on Mr. McGuire’s behalf in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.  McGuire’s counsel claimed that the new, untried drug substituted for pentobarbital could leave Mr. McGuire conscious and suffering from “air hunger,” thereby posing “a substantial risk of severe pain” which would violate the 8th Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. However, the Court ruled that the defense did not offer sufficient evidence to support a finding that the new drug poses a substantial risk of severe pain, and did not delay the execution proceedings.

Read more here.

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