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The Road to Abolition?The Future of Capital Punishment in the United States$
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Charles J. Jr. Ogletree and Austin Sarat

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780814762172

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814762172.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM NYU Press SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.nyu.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of NYU Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NYSO for personal use.date: 29 June 2022

Perfect Execution

Perfect Execution

Abolitionism and the Paradox of Lethal Injection

(p.215) 7 Perfect Execution
The Road to Abolition?

Timothy V. Kaufman-Osborn

NYU Press

This chapter examines the paradoxical nature of the lethal injection by focusing on the Supreme Court case Baze v. Rees, which affirmed the constitutionality of Kentucky's execution protocols. It begins with an overview of various states' experimentation with execution methods from the mid to late nineteenth century and continuing throughout much of the twentieth century. It then considers the Supreme Court's articulation of the Eighth Amendment doctrine regarding the methods of execution that were adopted as part of this experimentation and goes on to situate Baze v. Rees within the context of a long-standing quest for the perfect execution. It also discusses the alleged failure of the lethal injection to meet the imperatives of the ideal of the perfect execution and considers whether it is wise to pursue the abolition of capital punishment through legal challenges based on methods. The chapter concludes by arguing that the Supreme Court's ruling in Baze v. Rees was a setback for those seeking the abolition of the death penalty.

Keywords:   lethal injection, Supreme Court, Baze v. Rees, constitutionality, Kentucky, execution, Eighth Amendment, abolition of death penalty, death penalty, capital punishment

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