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From Bad to Worse? China to Switch From Firing Squads to Lethal Injection for Executions

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China has decided to phase out the traditional firing squads in favor of lethal injection for future executions.

They think lethal injection is more humane.

However, here in the U.S., recent evidence suggests that lethal injection often does not work as expected, and can cause a slow, excruciatingly painful death.

As a result, executions have been put on hold in many states in the U.S. pending a decision by the Supreme Court as to whether or not lethal injection violates the Eighth Amendment ban against cruel and unusual punishment. The case (Baze v. Rees, No. 07-5439) will be argued on Monday, January 7.

China will not reveal its actual lethal injection protocol, so we can't determine whether it's "better" or "worse" than what we've been using here in the U.S. But can any form of execution really be considered humane? The human rights community doesn't think so.

In response to this development in China, Catherine Baber, Asia-Pacific director for Amnesty International, said, "The extension of the lethal injection program flies in the face of the clear international trend away from using the death penalty and ignores the problems inherent in this punishment."

Baber continued, "Arbitrary application, miscarriages of justice, including executing the innocent, and the cruel and inhumane nature of the death penalty cannot be solved by changing the method of execution."

Indeed.

We need to stop this state-sanctioned killing worldwide. We have to stop the absurd practice of killing people who kill people in order to show people that killing people is wrong.

The death penalty constitutes revenge, not justice.

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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)
 

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