The concept of an eye for an eye has long been employed within American correctional facilities. In fact, even before the American Revolution, it was considered an acceptable form of punishment. Since then, the death penalty has been the subject of much controversy in religious, political and ethical debates.
However, two weeks ago, an announcement from the Missouri Department of Corrections gave way to a whole new debate with regards to the death penalty. The department announced that instead of using the three-drug routine for executions, it would use an untested one-drug approach.
The traditional method of executions involves three drugs: sodium thiopental (to render the party unconscious) followed by two other agents that stop the lungs and then the heart. However, since sodium thiopental distributors have stopped making the product for executions, supplies have been dwindling. Thus, correctional facilities are looking for alternative methods to carry out the death sentence. Most facilities have continued to use the three-drug system but have replaced sodium thiopental with another barbiturate.
However, the makers of this alternative drug also oppose the use of it in execution, so it too may no longer be a viable option. The Missouri Department of Corrections has no immediate plans to try this alternative sedative and plans to stick to its new one-drug approach. Propofol, the sedative that will be used in lieu of the three-drug method, is most famously known as the drug that Michael Jackson overdosed on.
Subsequently, there has been a significant amount of community backlash. Those who oppose the use of propofol are concerned that it may cause pain, which would violate the Eighth Amendment, protecting inmates from the use of “cruel and unusual punishment.” The American corrections system needs to fund a company that exclusively makes drugs, such as sodium thiopental, for the use of executions. Until such a company is found or animal testing is approved, the Missouri Department of Corrections must not employ the use of propofol. If it chooses to use this untested drug, it is no doubt opening itself to a myriad of unwanted lawsuits, all focusing on Eighth Amendment violations as well as pain and suffering.
Since government funding for social programs is at an all-time low and prisons are becoming increasingly crowded, this new controversy will most likely be a hot topic during the election year.
Anyone interested in writing a column for the Opinions section of the Central Florida Future can contact the Opinions Editor, Kaley , at firstname.lastname@example.org.