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After Supreme Court Decision, Is There An Alternative To Lethal Injection?

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People in support of abolishing the death penalty protest outside of the Supreme Court in Washington Monday. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
People in support of abolishing the death penalty protest outside of the Supreme Court in Washington Monday. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

On Monday, a divided Supreme Court upheld a state's right to use lethal injection in death penalty executions.

Justice Alito wrote in his decision that the death row inmates’ failed because they didn't identify a “known and available alternative method of execution” that wouldn't carry as much of a risk of pain.

The inmates had alleged that using the sedative midazolam ended in botched executions where inmates writhed in pain or took hours to die.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her dissent that, "under the court’s new rule, it would not matter whether the state intended to use midazolam, or instead to have petitioners drawn and quartered, slowly tortured to death, or actually burned at the stake."

Guest

Austin Sarat, author of "Gruesome Spectacles: Botched Executions and America's Death Penalty" and associate dean of the faculty and professor of jurisprudence and political science at Amherst College.

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The Boston Globe: Supreme Court Decision Does Not Solve The Problem Of Lethal Injection

  • "Monday’s Supreme Court decision in Glossip v. Gross, upholding the use of the drug midazolam as part of Oklahoma’s execution protocol, is a victory for supporters of the death penalty. But it will do little to quiet this nation’s ongoing crisis of confidence in the ability of lethal injection to ensure that executions are safe, reliable, and humane. The court’s decision merely postpones the day of reckoning for lethal injection."

POLITICO: SCOTUS Doesn’t Care How You Kill A Man

  • "In this decision, the court did what it has always done in the past, bending over backwards to reconcile a technology of execution with the 8th Amendment’s ban on “cruel and unusual punishment.” And, as in the past, the court’s decision will be extremely damaging to those we put to death as well to our own moral values and legal commitments."

This segment aired on July 2, 2015.

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