Scott Christianson revisits the issue of supposedly “humane” execution in his latest interview with KNews Radio. Christianson, the author of The Last Gasp: The Rise and Fall of the American Gas Chamber, talks about the research and development that went into building the gas chamber, and its shifting cultural significance. At one time, the chamber was perceived to provide a swift and painless death, but it eventually fell out of public favor and was outlawed.
In the U.S., the debate is still continuing. Concerns about the humanness of the drug sodium thiopental, one of three used in lethal injections, has prompted several European nations to ban exports of the drug to the U.S. As a result, many states face a shortage of sodium thiopental and are seeking a replacement drug.
At this crossroads, Christianson suggests we take lessons from our country’s history with capital punishment, where technologies that were once thought to be humane were later found “cruel and unusual.” Listen to the KNews podcast to hear more from Christianson on the history of execution, and why the news media, activists, scholars, and ordinary citizens must face up to these issues today.