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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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“No Improvement over Electrocution or Even a Bullet”

“No Improvement over Electrocution or Even a Bullet”

Lethal Injection and the Meaning of Speed and Reliability in the Modern Execution Process

Chapter:
(p.252) 8 “No Improvement over Electrocution or Even a Bullet”
Source:
The Road to Abolition?
Author(s):

Jürgen Martschukat

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9780814762172.003.0008

This chapter examines the argument that the lethal injection is not humane at all, with particular emphasis on its speed and reliability. It first considers the latest criticisms against the lethal injection and relates it to two landmarks in the history of modern executions: the guillotine and the electric chair. It then provides an overview of the lethal injection and its introduction as a method of execution and goes on to discuss how notions of speed and timing have been incorporated into attempts to make executions “appear tolerable” by providing a “reliable, precise, and painless death” for the convicted. It argues that today's criticism of he lethal injection has not diverged much from that of the capital punishment discourse in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Keywords:   lethal injection, execution, guillotine, electric chair, painless death, capital punishment

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