10 Executions That Have Sparked Debate About The Death Penalty

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The death penalty is only a punishment for the most unspeakable crimes, but it remains controversial.

Some believe it bring families closure and is the ultimate justice for murder victims. Others say executions are cruel and unusual punishment, and others, including many Catholics, oppose it on the basis that it is not a pro-life position. Organizations like The Innocence Project maintain that wrongful convictions can lead to wrongful executions.

Botched or questionable executions are common enough that they continually spark debate about capital punishment and its use in the United States. Here are 10 death penalty cases that have sparked controversy over the years.

1. Dennis McGuire, executed January 16, 2014 in Ohio.

McGuire was convicted of rape and murder. He was the first death row inmate to be given the combination of midazolam and hydromorphone, which have now become associated with botched executions. It took 24 minutes for him to die, and he struggled for air for 10 to 13 of those minutes.

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2. Joseph R. Wood, executed July 23, 2014 in Arizona.

Wood was convicted of the murder of his former girlfriend and her father. His execution also used midazolam and hydromorphone, which had only ever been used in Dennis McGuire’s lethal injection. It took more than two hours for him to die, which later initiated reviews of the process.

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