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Kentucky inmates challenge lethal injection as new study suggests awareness

[JURIST] Two convicted killers currently on Kentucky's death row begin a court challenge Monday to the state's use of lethal injection as its form of execution. Ralph Baze and Thomas Bowling claim that the use of lethal injection is "cruel and unusual" punishment under the meaning of the Eighth Amendment [text]. Attorneys for the two men argue that the mixture of drugs used by Kentucky to anesthetize inmates before the introduction of a muscle blocker and the actual lethal injection is insufficient to actually prevent the inmate from feeling the effects of the injection. Countless conflicting medical experts are expected to testify concerning the depth of inmates' unconsciousness and whether they still feel pain when the lethal injection stops their heart. An article by two Univerity of Miami researchers published just last week [BBC report] in the British medical journal The Lancet [journal website; full text available by subscription] concluded on the basis of evidence from Texas and Virginia that subjects of lethal injection were in fact aware of what was happening to them and that the procedure was unnecessarily cruel. USA Today has more.

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