Not too long ago I watched a very informative, well-researched documentary, How to Kill a Human Being, about the death penalty in America and the different means in which it is performed. Oddly enough, the author was concerned about the manner in which criminals who received the death sentence were executed. Former Conservative MP Michael Portillo not only examined the many options but he enacted them with himself as a guinea pigto a very dangerous degree. He came to the conclusion that “if the state’s going to kill people, they ought to do so as humanely as possible….I think most people would agree on that.” Portillo refers to criminals who have committed first-degree murder and violent rape. Do most people agree violent psychopaths have the right to a humane execution? The surgeon who is accredited for creating current state lethal injection argues, “who cares if some pain is experienced? Who cares?”
With medical supervision and intervention, Portillo underwent the following: lethal injection; a hanging; a few minutes in a gas chamber; and, in some sort of bizarre altered manner, the electric chair. A firing squad is legal in some states, but Portillo didn’t choose to face one. Certainly, no one else in the world has become a human guinea pig to “safely” test four legal execution methods in the United States. Usually Portillo reached a state of unconsciousness before the experiments were over (no surprise there). In this manner, Portillo believes he can more fully inform the states that enact execution as to the error of their painful ways: he advocates for painless execution for criminals.
The argument Portillo presents is not whether or not execution should continue legally in America, but finding a means of killing with kindness. This presents a new debate over human execution. An interesting point of view, but probably one that will not persevere.