Click here to view this site's accessibility statement.
The BBC Horizon channel recently aired UK MP Michael Portillo’s attempts to find a humane solution to execution (see it here). He sets out looking for a method that
a) does not require medical expertise, because doctors abide by the Hippocratic law, preventing them from doing anything that will contribute to death,
b) is quick and painless,
c) is not gory,
d) and does not depend on prisoner cooperation.
Based on his findings, he finds that all currently available methods fail on those grounds:
a) any lethal injection or euthanasia cannot be reliably performed without medical expertise
b) hanging is not reliable
c) electrocution is decidedly gory
d) cyanide gas requires the prisoner to cooperate by breathing deeply and regularly, which is most unlikely
He then comes across what seems to be a perfect solution: a mixture of nitrogen and argon, because it causes hypoxia (lack of oxygen) that can induce euphoria in the human brain while slowly asphyxiating the body within a matter of seconds. He finds out, however, that the very people administering the executions aren’t interested in a humane solution (much less one that leads to euphoria) to executing a convicted prisoner because the prisoner him/herself did not provide that to their victim. An eye for an eye, if you will. If the convict dies humanely, what does it do to the victim’s family and relatives?
I think that the death penalty is already a sufficient payback for a crime, in that it already assumes that the one human being can exact the sentence of life or death upon another. Clearly the judicial system leading up to it is not perfect, but if it amounts to performing the actual execution, I think that any state should be required to perform it in a manner that is dignified. If the state performs in a manner similar to the convict in providing a painful death, who is the better of the two? Wanting a convict to die for their crime is understandable (just imagine yourself as a relative of someone who was brutally and senselessly murdered), but wanting them to die an excruciating and painful death is I think a step beyond what we as humans should allow.