The latest challenge in the United States, at least, is just how to get it done. The New York Times reports on the unavailability of the drugs that had become the standard for executions. From the piece:
In the beginning, it was relatively simple and uniform. Several dozen states adopted the three-drug cocktail for executions first used by Texas three decades ago — a sedative (usually sodium thiopental) was mixed with a paralytic agent (pancuronium bromide) followed by a drug inducing cardiac arrest (potassium chloride). The idea was to provide a quick, painless method to replace the electric chair, gas chamber and firing squad.
But a shortage of pancuronium bromide a few years ago led some states to switch to a single-drug method, often simply administering enough sodium thiopental to cause death. The manufacturer of that drug, however, the Illinois-based Hospira, stopped providing it to corrections departments after workers at its Italian plant, and European officials, objected to the use of the drug for executions.
The Times quotes a pair of guys from pro-execution groups, one of whom calls the situation “a conspiracy to choke off capital punishment by limiting the availability of drugs.” “Conspiracy”? If a bunch of people don’t want to be part of a killing process, that sounds pretty reasonable.