As states struggle to obtain traditional lethal injection drugs, some are turning to new methods of execution, or reviving old ones, as a backup.
Death penalty opponents were horrified on Tuesday when Nebraskabecame the first state in the union to carry out an execution using the painkiller fentanyl, which has been a driving force of the deadly opioid epidemic.
Some critics objected to the use of “a drug that’s currently ravaging our communities and killing thousands of Americans a year,” as Democratic New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson put it on Twitter. Others, like American Civil Liberties Union attorney Brian Stull, argued that the lethal protocol for Carey Dean Moore’s death was “cruel and unusual punishment” since the state paralyzed him before injecting the fentanyl, making it harder to know if Moore felt pain.
Nebraska's unprecedented move is part of a broader pattern of states turning to new methods of execution, or reviving old ones, as a backup. This is happening because more and more of the companies producing and supplying traditional lethal injection drugs want to keep their products from being used for capital punishment.