Lethal injection is the practice of injecting a person with a fatal dose of drugs (typically a barbiturate, paralytic, and potassium solution) for the express purpose of causing the immediate death of the subject. The main application for this procedure is capital punishment, but the term may also be applied in a broad sense to euthanasia and suicide. It kills the person by first putting the person to sleep, and then stopping the breathing and heart in that order.
Lethal injection gained popularity in the twentieth century as a form of execution intended to supplant other methods, notably electrocution, hanging, firing squad, gas chamber, and beheading, that were considered to be more painful. It is now the most common form of execution in the United States of America.
The concept of lethal injection as a means of putting someone to death was first proposed on January 17, 1888, by Julius Mount Bleyer, a New York doctor who praised it as being cheaper than hanging. Bleyer's idea, however, was never used. The British Royal Commission on Capital Punishment (1949–53) also considered lethal injection, but eventually rejected it after pressure from the British Medical Association (BMA).
On May 11, 1977, Oklahoma's state medical examiner, Jay Chapman, proposed a new, less painful method of execution, known as Chapman's Protocol: "An intravenous saline drip shall be started in the prisoner's arm, into which shall be introduced a lethal injection consisting of an ultra-short-acting barbiturate in combination with a chemical paralytic." After the procedure was approved by anesthesiologist Stanley Deutsch, Reverend Bill Wiseman introduced the method into the Oklahoma legislature, where it passed and was quickly adopted (Title 22, Section 1014(A)). Since then, until 2004, thirty-seven of the thirty-eight states using capital punishment introduced lethal injection statutes. On August 29, 1977, Texas adopted the new method of execution, switching to lethal injection from electrocution. On December 7, 1982, Texas became the first state to use lethal injection to carry out capital punishment, for the execution of Charles Brooks, Jr..
The People's Republic of China began using this method in 1997, Guatemala in 1998, the Philippines in 1999, Thailand in 2003, and the Republic of China (Taiwan) in 2005. Vietnam reportedly now uses this method. The Philippines has since abolished the death penalty.
Nazi Germany's T-4 Euthanasia Program used lethal injection as one of several methods to destroy what the Nazi government dubbed "life unworthy of life".
Lethal injection has also been used in cases of euthanasia to facilitate voluntary death in patients with terminal or chronically painful conditions. Both applications have used similar drug combinations.
Famous quotes containing the word lethal:
“Today brings the sad, glad tidings that Mrs. Abraham Lincoln has passed from that darkness which had fallen upon her path through this life, out into the light and joy of that life toward which her vision has so long been strained.
Modern education is lethal to children.... We stuff them with mathematics, we pummel them with science, and we use them up before their time.”
—Honoré De Balzac (17991850)