The Supreme Court’s decision in Hamm v Reeves has clearly demonstrated the longstanding tension that exists between drug companies that do not wish for their products to be used to kill people, and states that are so determined to continue executions they will go so far as house unreliable drugs as sedatives as an alternative.

The result is botched executions.

On a number of occasions, inmates have been visibly in excruciating pain during their executions which are effectively “the chemical equivalent of being burned at the stake”.

This article explores the approach used by the Supreme Court in Hamm v Reeves and other cases to hand out such cruel and unusual punishment, and asks: given the gravity of killing another human being, should the court not pay extra special attention to death penalty cases?

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