The Wrong Way of Discussing About Death Penalty in the USA

The US Supreme Court has started discussing whether current 3-drug death penalty procedures in Kentucky can be defined as “cruel and unusual punishment” and thereby declared uncostitutional (regarding the Eigth Amendment).

Actually, and quite strangely, the above is not strictly true. What the Court is being asked to deliberate on, is the proposal by two death row inmates in Kentucky to be killed with a single drug, rather than three.

In a supremely ironical situation, their lawyer is trying to argue something like “one drug good, three drugs bad”.

Some of the justices have problems with the whole reasoning, and rightly so: what would be there to avoid in the future a repeat of the same discussion, with somebody arguing that the “one drug” procedure is unconstitutional too?

Why not stick to what is relatively well known (three-drug) since there is no evidence one-drug will be less cruel and/or less unusual?

IMNSHO the underlying problem is that the entire setup is wrong.

The Constitution says “[…] cruel and unusual punishments [shall not be] inflicted“. It does not refer to “the least cruel” and/or “the least unusual” penalties.

If the 3-drug procedure is cruel/unusual, then it is ipso facto wrong to use: even if it is the least cruel/unusual way anybody has thought of at the moment.

The burden of coming up with a constitutional (non-cruel, non-unusual) way of applying the Death Penalty should be with the people advocating for it.

Everything else, makes very little sense indeed.

UPDATE: A shortened version of the above is published in the Letters section of the International Herald Tribune (newspaper date: January 10, 2008).