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2.29.2008

Death penalty: Chengdu switches to lethal injection

Beginning from tomorrow, in Sichuan provice execution by lethal injection will replace execution by shooting.

Sichuan province has been experimenting with this method of execution since 1999. The drugs used for letal injection - costing USD 300 per injection - will be provided free of charge by the Supreme People´s Court.

Execution by legal injection has been represented by the Renmin ribao as less painful, more "civilized" (文明) and "humane" (人道) than execution by shooting. The opposite seems to be true, instead. A couple of years ago Florida suspended all executions by lethal injections, because they were deemed cruel and unusual.

Drugs used for legal injections are normally barbiturates (as Sodium thiopental) which make the person unconscious, paralyzing agents (as Pancuronium bromide) and potassium, used to stop the heart muscle.

The combination of these chemicals should result in anesthesia. The person then experiences a respiratory and cardiac arrest. In reality the person often remains conscious while being chemically asphyxiated and - what is worse - totally paralized. Human Rights Watch has documented the problems of this method of execution.





Punishment
and power move from

the highly visible


the execution ground, the firing squad

to the invisible, to the secrecy of an aseptic execution van










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