CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Dow on Method-of-Execution Jurisprudence

David R. Dow (University of Houston Law Center) has posted Conceptual and Scientific Defects in the Supreme Court’s 'Method of Execution' Jurisprudence (92 Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine 793-803, 2019) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
The Eighth Amendment to the US Constitution prohibits the infliction of cruel and unusual punishments. However, no method of executing prisoners has ever been deemed by the Supreme Court to constitute Cruel and Unusual Punishment. Constitutional challenges to the dominant mode of executing prisoners today – lethal injection – are hobbled by a lack of clinical data that would reveal the likelihood this method might inflict gratuitous pain. Here, we assess the contemporary Eighth Amendment jurisprudence, including its legal and scientific limitations, and suggest modifications.

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