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Is the Lethal Injection Process Unconstitutional?

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Is the Lethal Injection Process Unconstitutional?

Is the Lethal Injection Process Unconstitutional?
by Attorney Darren Kavinoky

The death penalty and lethal injection are a controversial topic. As a criminal defense attorney, I am sure it is no surprise that I am opposed to capital punishment. So long as DNA continues to exonerate the wrongly convicted, I can’t support a lethal injection process inducing irreversible punishment without irrefutable proof.

According to the Innocence Project, “to date, 349 people in the United States have been exonerated by DNA testing, including 20 who served time on death row. These people served an average of 14 years in prison before exoneration and release.” [1]

In the United States, the wrongfully accused and the innocent who plead guilty to take plea bargains and avoid longer sentences, waste years in prison serving time for crimes they don’t commit. The death penalty and the lethal injection process is an irreversible punishment, and yet history has shown us that finding someone guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, is often times a flawed ruling. (Read the list of innocent prisoners exonerated here .)

To make someone pay for a crime they did not commit with their life goes against the basic principles of our country’s constitution. Especially when we continue to see that the criminal justice system is flawed. As recent as January 19, 2017, Isaiah McCoy was exonerated. Said McCoy, “Two years ago, I was on death row. At 25, I was given a death sentence – and I am today alive and well and kicking and a free man.” [2]

Lethal Injection

Recently, a federal judge declared that Ohio’s lethal injection process is unconstitutional which in turn delays the execution of three upcoming executions. One of those executions, that of Ronald Phillips was scheduled for February 15, 2017. ABC reports, “a federal judge declared [Ohio’s] latest lethal injection process unconstitutional.” [3] I support the examination of the constitutionality of lethal injections.

Phillips is on death row for the rape and murder of “his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter, Sheila Marie Evans, in 1993.” Phillips is 43 now. He has spent over half of his life in prison. While the crime for which he is convicted is heinous, as a nation if we want to send the message that killing is wrong, shouldn’t our government stop killing people?

Sources
1. Innocence Project. Retrieved on January 27, 2017 via http://www.innocenceproject.org/exonerate/ .

2. Retrieved on January 27, 2017 via http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/innocence-cases#157 .

3. Andrew Welsh-Huggins. January 26, 2017. ABC News. “Federal Judge Rejects Ohio’s New Lethal Injection Process.” Retrieved via http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/federal-judge-rejects-ohios-lethal-injection-process-45062486 .

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