States Drag Feet on 'Humane' Lethal Injections
Supreme Court ruling may
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jan 3, 2008 1:04 PM CST
Death penalty opponents hold hands and sing following the execution of Christopher Newton at the Southern Ohio Correction Facility in Lucasville, Ohio, Thursday, May 24, 2007. Newton was executed Thursday...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – With the Supreme Court scrutinizing whether lethal injections constitute "cruel and unusual punishment," the New York Times wonders why none of the 38 states who use it have taken a simple step that could solve the problem: trade the three-drug sequence that's said to risk intense pain for a single drug used to euthanize animals. None wants to be the first to make the move, the paper finds.

Even though it would simplify executions and make them "humane," states don't want to be pioneers in a politically charged process, they say; they'd rather wait for the courts to spearhead the change. As it stands now, "there's safety in numbers," says one expert.
The Supreme Court will hear Baze v. Rees next week; until a ruling is forthcoming, there's a de facto moratorium on executions around the country.