This US supreme court ruling on how a man must die is a study in cruelty | Maya Foa

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All over the nation, opinion is turning against the death penalty and in favour of dismantling the machinery of death

When does the execution of a prisoner cross a line and become “cruel and unusual”? In the strange world of the US death penalty, that is an all-important legal question. The US constitution prohibits “cruel and unusual” punishments, but condemned prisoners seeking relief have to prove their executions meet this definition, as opposed to just being “painful”.

This week the US supreme court handed down a ruling that sought to clarify what manner of execution would meet constitutional standards of cruelty and unusualness. The court’s answer? Disembowelling.

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