This brief essay argues that any attempt by the U.S. Supreme Court and others to establish a painless punishment, especially lethal injection, fails logically and morally.
From the beginning, by definition, etymologically and existentially, “punishment” and “pain” have been inseparably connected. Those who advocate ‘painless punishment’ call for contradiction. Whether looking to the future (utilitarians) or the past (retributivists), we once clearly understood and embraced the inseparable connection between punishment and pain. Gradually, however, punishment has morphed into something which denies its own nature, culminating in today's move toward a massive dose of anesthetic as the ultimate punishment - as if less painful necessarily means more humane. This essay condemns merging punishment and treatment while arbitrarily severing crime from punishment, pain from justice.
Arguing that how we kill those we rightly detest should in no way resemble how we euthanize beloved pets, this essay retributively condemns lethal injection itself as an ill-conceived method of execution not because it possibly causes pain, but because it certainly causes confusion - punitively contaminating medicine while it also cosmetizes and contaminates punishment.
35 Fordham Urb. L.J. 969 (2008)