To The Editor:

Missouri may soon become the first state to use the drug propofol for an execution.

Being “first” in this context is a dubious distinction for several reasons, not the least of which is that propofol is the drug that gained notoriety in the death of Michael Jackson; but more to the point, it has never been used in the United States for executions.

The ACLU is against capital punishment first and foremost because it fails to meet the constitutional standard, but instead imposes cruel and unusual punishment, which is prohibited by the Bill of Rights.

In this context, we strongly oppose the added injustice of using a drug whose protocol has not been sufficiently evaluated by our court system. For example, since medical staff is not required to participate in Missouri executions, what is the risk that propofol could be administered incorrectly and prolong the killing, compounding the cruelty to the condemned?

At the very least, we should take the time to evaluate the new protocol to determine if it is consistent with the law before using it in any executions. In the high stakes of taking life, “oops” is not an acceptable risk. Not even once.