Ralph Baze and Thomas Clyde Bowling Jr. have challenged the constitutionality of lethal injection, and the Supreme Court has agreed to reconsider the issue.
The two inmates are on death row in Kentucky; Baze for shooting a sheriff and deputy in 1992 and Bowling for shooting a couple and their two year old son in 1990.
Bowling was scheduled to be executed in November 2004, but sued Kentucky arguing lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment. Baze was scheduled to be executed Tuesday night, but his death has also been put on hold as the Supreme Court reviews whether the mix of drugs used for lethal injection breaches laws against cruel and unusual punishment.
An issue of the prisoner suffering excruciating pain has been raised. Some argue if the inmate is not given an adequate amount of anesthetic than he or she can be in extreme pain until death.
The same combination of drugs is used in all 38 states that allow lethal injection. Anesthetic, muscle paralyzer, and a drug to stop the heart are used to execute the prisoner. Nearly 10 states cite the method ineffective and cruel.
The outcome of the case could effect the way the death penalty is carried out in the United States.
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