When death is rendered unusually cruel
Next week, Michael Taylor is scheduled to die by lethal injection for raping and killing a 15-year-old Kansas City girl 25 years ago.
We aren’t going to argue the death penalty.
We are going to point out that Taylor named the Apothecary Shoppe of Tulsa, Okla., in a lawsuit that argued pentobarbital, which Missouri officials had used as part of its lethal cocktail, would cause inhumane pain. The Apothecary Shoppe agreed to stop selling the drug to Missouri for lethal injection.
As the Associated Press reported, the scarcity of drugs for lethal injections has forced states to scramble for substitutes. Costly court challenges are expected.
For example, Ohio’s lethal injection policy, like those in Missouri and Texas, had called for a single dose of pentobarbital. The state was unable to obtain pentobarbital for its last two executions, instead using a backup two-drug combination. That combination was used to kill Dennis McGuire on Jan. 16 in an execution that raised new concerns. McGuire took 26 minutes to die, snorting, gasping and repeatedly opening and shutting his mouth as the drugs took effect.
We can hear some people saying with irony, gee, that’s too bad. But cruel and unusual punishment is forbidden in the Constitution. And lethal injections are apparently on a fast track to being judged unconstitutional.