The article by Salk (2015) claims that lethal injection reforms should be revised to be similar to that of human subject research as today they are performed without proper guidance. Here, human subject research is provided in the Common Rule. It also argues that lethal injection is a subject of correction by human subject research. The general population is interested in making lethal injection less painful and more humane; while today’s practice is not fitting those requirements, thus, it should be reconsidered and undergo changes in its reforms. The main concern is utilizing untested lethal injections for sentenced people. The article also raises the problem of lethal states that are not searching for better and more effective ways of lethal injection.
In short, Salk (2015) provides two reasons why lethal injection reforms should be altered. First, today’s lethal injection reforms can be under human subject research made by the Common Rule’s definition. Second, society is interested in ensuring that executions are done in a way that decreases pain and suffering to the minimum level possible. This can only be achieved by further reviewing and examining lethal injection reform.
The key suggestion of the article is that if the United States plans to further develop the death penalty, it should take into consideration the humanity of such punishments. This is because it seems that most capital punishment remains inhumane. While providing the claim, Salk (2015) provides an overview of the evolution of lethal injection and human subject research regulation. Here, he explains that the death penalty developed from a “humane” solution to an uncertain experiment that lacks regulations. Such the case is mainly because the success of capital punishment is a highly controversial topic that, in addition to the issue of fairness, made lethal death injection operate in this way. The article also reveals why current lethal injections are untested. It suggests that due to pharmacological companies that are in charge of those injections, lethal states have no choice but to accept untested methods. Pharmacy organizations do not consider “active involvement or facilitation of execution as a violation of professional ethics” (Salk, 2015, p. 290). Therefore, only in June 2015, it was found that the use of midazolam violates the Eight Amendment, showing the real situation with lethal injections in the country.
With regards to human subject research, lethal injections align with the federal statuary definition of human subject research. Salk (2015) argues that all three conditions of this definition are met in today’s lethal injection context. First, the lethal injection procedure is done through interaction with human subjects. Second, this procedure is also can be viewed as “systematic” in the sense that it utilizes some kind of a method or system. Third, although it is debatable, there is still plenty of evidence that demonstrates how data gathering during lethal injection is contributed to general knowledge. As such, the lethal injection can be considered under human subject research.
When it comes to me, I agree that the death penalty should have proceeded through human subject research. The topic of capital punishment is sensitive, and it requires special attention. It should be carefully controlled to remain ethical and not provoke the public. Therefore, human subject research is the right way of approaching lethal injection as it ensures the protection of people and helps to preserve humanity. Moreover, testing lethal injections would prevent states from cruel punishments. If there is no solid claim that states provide humane punishment, there is also should be no protocol at all. Thus, states must consider lethal injections as a critical and urgent issues to be solved in the nearest future. Indeed, studying ethics in criminal justice is crucial as it gives new perspectives on different aspects of what states do with prisoners and to what extent it is acceptable and humane. In addition, the fairness of death sentences is another big topic that should be examined as people are being punished for the things they did not do.
Utilizing human subject research regulations can be helpful in analyzing the issue and understanding whether lethal injections do the lowest degree of possible pain to prisoners. I think every action with a human body and mind should be considered by using ethics of human subject research regulations. This is because people have the right to know what they are undergoing and how it is affecting their bodies. In this context, prisoners also have a right to know the method and the process of the death penalty. If states do not provide and secure prisoners’ rights well, they also are not interested in the rights of ordinary citizens. Without proper regulations on such a significant issue, there can be an unstable situation in the country, causing millions of dissatisfied people. Therefore, the question of the legitimacy of the Court and criminal justice is under a threat if nothing is done to manage lethal injection reforms.
To conclude, the article argues that the current lethal injection in the United States uses untested methods and should be regulated by human subject research. It explains it by providing two reasons: first is that lethal injection suits the definition of human subject research and second is that society is interested in reducing the pain of such punishments and making them more humane. I do agree with the central statements of this article, as lethal injections are a serious issue that should be considered carefully otherwise, it would lead to societal dissatisfaction, causing threats to criminal justice legitimacy.
Salk, R. (2015). Lethal injection in uncharted territory: The need to ensure the humanity of current death penalty practices. Criminal Justice Ethics, 34(3), 284-311.