The US Supreme Court heard arguments on January 7, 2008 on whether the method of lethal injection used to execute prisoners in Kentucky is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment. The outcome of Baze v. Rees will have national repercussions, as 36 of the 37 death penalty states use the same combination of lethal injection drugs as Kentucky. There is currently a de facto national moratorium on lethal injection executions pending the outcome of Baze.
Mounting evidence suggests some prisoners may suffer horribly before death because executioners use a bizarre three-drug protocol concocted 30 years ago,� said Jamie Fellner, co-author with Sarah Tofte of So Long as They Die: Lethal Injections in the US. The idea of a humane execution is a contradiction in terms. But if states are going to put people to death, they must choose the drugs and methods that carry the least risk of pain and suffering for the condemned. To date, they have refused to do so.�