Justices debate lethal injection and the death penalty: In Plain English

First, there was hanging.  Then there was the electric chair, or in some places the gas chamber and the firing squad.  More recently, many states and the federal government have relied on lethal injection – administering a fatal dose of drugs – to carry out executions.  The switch to lethal injections came in no small part because they were regarded as more humane, for both the condemned inmate and the witnesses to the execution:  the prisoner could simply drift off, as if he were sleeping.
In 2008, the Supreme Court rejected an argument that Kentucky’s lethal injection procedures violated the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment,” because of the possibility that the inmate could suffer serious pain if the procedures were not followed properly.  But that didn’t end the debate, particularly after several well-publicized botched executions. 

Original SCOTUS article

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