It's with the above in mind that we now consider this recent news story on the BBC website, Prisoners 'aware' in executions. Some highlights of the article:
Prisoners executed by lethal injection in the US may have been aware of what was happening to them, researchers claim.
A team from the University of Miami looked at information on anaesthesia and awareness in prisoners.
They suggest some suffer unnecessarily, and claim standards do not meet those for putting animals down.
The researchers, writing in the Lancet, call for the use of lethal injection to cease to prevent "unnecessary cruelty".
Prisoners are first given sodium thiopental, which acts as an anaesthetic before pancuronium bromide is given to cause paralysis. Potassium chloride is then given to cause death.
Without anaesthesia, the person would experience suffocation and excruciating pain - but would not be able to move.
The researchers then analysed autopsy data for 49 prisoners who had been executed in Arizona, Georgia. North Carolina and South Carolina.
They found that concentrations of thiopental in the blood were lower than that required for surgery in 43 cases. In 21 of those, the concentrations in prisoners' blood were consistent with them being aware of what was going on.
Writing in the Lancet, the researchers, led by Dr Leonardis Koniaris, said: "We certainly cannot conclude that these inmates were unconscious and insensate.
"However, with no monitoring and with little use of the paralytic agent, any suffering of the inmate would be undetectable."
They add: "The absence of training and monitoring, and the remote administration of drugs, coupled with eyewitness reports of muscle responses during execution, suggest that the current practice for lethal injection for execution fails to meet veterinary standards."
Emphasis added. Think about that for a moment. Presumably, the most "humane" of the execution methods - lethal injection - is supposed to result in a painless death. For that to occur, the drugs have to be administered correctly. What we are finding is that - lo and behold - in many instances those drugs are not administered correctly at all. It doesn't take much of a leap to come to the conclusion that most of those involved in the business of execution, from the politicians who've built their careers advocating it down to the executioners themselves, simply don't give a damn. Someone does need to give a damn, and that is where you come in - grilling politicians about the issue and reminding them that the death penalty is unjust on so many levels - that it amounts to torture being one of the big ones.