Creator of lethal injection protocol: ‘I don’t see anything that is more humane’


(Paul Buck/AFP/Getty Images)

Do you think lethal injection is on its way out?

The sense that I get from it is that it’s becoming almost politically incorrect to be pro-death penalty. But I think that maybe the death penalty itself is going to go away and they won’t have to be concerned with the method by which it would be carried out. I have not had a particular problem with the death penalty because over so many years of doing examinations of victims of these people who have been convicted of these crimes and seeing the horrors that have gone on with some of the victims, I haven’t had a particular problem with the death penalty.

Jay Chapman, who as the Oklahoma state medical examiner helped conceive of the three-drug protocol commonly used in executions for more than three decades, talked to Time for a new interview. A botched execution in Oklahoma last month has drawn renewed attention to the death penalty and how this country executes people. (Chapman said he is “vaguely” following what is happening with lethal injection nowadays.)

Lethal injection, the primary method of execution in this country, was first adopted in Oklahoma in 1977 and used for the first time in Texas five years later. The three-drug protocol — combining an anesthetic, a paralytic and a drug that stopped the heart — was overwhelmingly used until 2010, when a shortage of drugs caused states to scramble to find new drugs.

Read the entire interview — including Chapman’s thoughts on how the drugs are now administered — over at Time.

Related: Everything you need to know about execution in the United States.

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.
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