Let’s suspend judgment for a moment and work with the assumption that capital punishment is a) a legally preferable method for dealing with incorrigible criminals as opposed to life imprisonment, and b) lethal injection is one of, if not the most humane method of execution.


Jeffrey Toobin’s Comment for the New Yorker Comment podcast tackles not just the ethical but also technological issues in the application of lethal injection for the death penalty.

While the process is the favored execution method, there have been recent issues with the production and supply of one of the drugs used for lethal injection, resulting in underground operations for its procurement without F.D.A. supervision. Because there are no guarantees as to how effective the secretly obtained drug is, there are risks that it may merely cause a lifetime of damage to the condemned criminal instead of doing its job — defeating the purpose of a supposedly humane execution.

Listen to Toobin’s in-depth and insightful discussion below, and please share your ideas on this sensitive issue in the comments as well.