In Virginia this month, Brandon Hedrick, a convicted rapist and murderer, chose the electric chair over lethal injection as his means of execution, perhaps because he had heard of the pain that sometimes results when stuck with needles that anesthetize, paralyze and then kill.
Lethal injection was supposed to be a humane way of ending life. That’s why it is used in 37 of the 38 states that have the death penalty and why it was used in every execution in the United States last year. For various reasons, though, the drugs can induce agony. The convict may sense himself dying of suffocation, it has been reported. He may feel his insides burning.