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Clinicians' Involvement in Capital Punishment — Constitutional Implications

Authors
Journal
New England Journal of Medicine
0028-4793
Publisher
New England Journal of Medicine
Publication Date
Volume
371
Issue
2
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1056/nejmp1405651
Disciplines
  • Law
  • Medicine

Abstract

Abstract Botched executions like that of Clayton Lockett demonstrate the dearth of safeguards for ensuring that lethal injection results in humane deaths, consistent with the Eighth Amendment. What role should the medical and scientific communities play in this process? If capital punishment is constitutional, as it has long been held to be, then it “necessarily follows that there must be a means of carrying it out.”1 So the Supreme Court concluded in Baze v. Rees, a 2008 challenge to Kentucky's lethal-injection protocol, in which the Court held that the means used by Kentucky did not violate the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Lethal-injection procedures have changed significantly since 2008, and that fact coupled with Oklahoma's recent botched lethal injection of Clayton Lockett, the latest in a long series of gruesome and error-ridden executions, has raised questions . . .

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