We Should Keep the Death Penalty, But It’s Time to Rethink Lethal Injection

by Eli Lehrer

The botched execution in Oklahoma Tuesday night doesn’t provide a good reason to get rid of the death penalty. But it should be a major point for reconsidering the use of lethal injection. Promoted as a more humane way to carry out the death penalty (Ronald Reagan once compared it putting a horse to sleep), the evidence shows that it’s nothing of the sort. The sheer complexity of lethal-injection protocols, furthermore, makes continued screw-ups almost inevitable. These errors cross the line into torture. 

Some crimes almost certainly deserve the death penalty, not because it deters crime but simply because these crimes are so heinous. 

Clayton Lockett, the inmate whose execution was botched, has been convicted for a crime spree that involved him killing a victim by burying her alive. (Best as I know, there’s no possible doubt of his guilt.)  An act of torture, however, still isn’t worthy of a civilized society. We need to rethink lethal injection.