"Some prisoners executed by lethal injection might be so inadequately sedated that they are awake enough to suffer agonizingly painful deaths, according to a study.
Researchers who studied blood samples of inmates after executions found that more than 40 percent contained levels of anesthesia so low that the prisoners might have been conscious during their executions. They also found that executioners in Virginia and Texas, homes to the nation's busiest death chambers, were not trained to administer anesthesia. The authors of the study, published this week in the British medical journal the Lancet, called for a moratorium on lethal injections.
"There seems to be a significant fraction of the condemned who are aware" when injected, said Leonidas G. Koniaris, associate professor of surgery at the University of Miami and the study's lead author. "Very few were actually at a sufficient level to qualify as a properly done animal euthanization."