STUDIES: Amnesty International's Report on the U.S. Death Penalty After 35 Years

A report released by Amnesty International in July looks at recent developments in the lethal injection controversy in the U.S. and provides an overview of the death penalty since it was reinstated in 1976 in Gregg v. Georgia. Amnesty's report, entitled "An Embarrassment of Hitches: Reflections on the Death Penalty, 35 Years After Gregg v. Georgia, As States Scramble for Lethal Injection Drugs," begins with a discussion of a lawsuit filed by attorneys for Arizona death row inmate Donald Beaty against federal authorities for allowing the importation of sodium thiopental from international sources in violation of federal law. The Arizona Department of Corrections announced the evening before Beaty's execution that they would switch to pentobarbital in order to avoid legal questions about the use of sodium thiopental, which they had obtained from overseas. The report concludes, "The USA’s international isolation on the death penalty has become more and more acute. It is even impacting the scramble by authorities in the USA as they try to fix their lethal injection protocols to take account of the shortage of one of the ingredients they had become used to employing in their death chambers. The USA now faces not just opposition from other governments to its continuing use of the death penalty, but also from pharmaceutical companies that manufacture drugs for patient care – not for killing prisoners." Read full report.

(Amnesty International, "An Embarrassment of Hitches: Reflections on the Death Penalty, 35 Years After Gregg v. Georgia, As States Scramble for Lethal Injection Drugs," July 2011).  Read more Studies on the death penalty.