According to a report released on Friday by a non-profit capital punishment research group, the number of botched executions in the United States reached a record high in 2022, despite the fact that the overall number of inmates executed remained near a five-decade low.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center’s annual report, 7 of the 20 executions attempted this year were “visibly problematic,” including one lethal injection attempt that resulted in an unprecedented three-hour struggle to insert an intravenous (IV) line into an Alabama man.
Two of this year’s 20 execution attempts – both lethal injections in Alabama – were called off midway after officials attempted and failed to establish IV lines, prompting the state’s Republican governor to call for a “top-to-bottom” review of the execution process.
Other scheduled executions in Tennessee, Idaho, and South Carolina were canceled after state officials discovered flaws in execution preparation or protocol, according to Reuters.
With the exception of the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021, when many states paused or slowed executions, the 18 executions in 2022 were the fewest in three decades. Outside of the pandemic years, the 22 death sentences issued in 2022 were the fewest in any previous year.
Because 37 U.S. states have abolished the death penalty or have not executed anyone in more than a decade, this year’s executions were concentrated in a few states, with more than half taking place in Oklahoma and Texas.
Oregon’s Democratic governor commuted the death sentences of the state’s 17 death-row inmates on Tuesday, sending them to life in prison with no chance of parole, and directed officials to dismantle the state’s execution chamber.
In the United States, public support for executing prisoners has hovered this year just one percentage point above a five-decade low reached in 2021, when 54% of respondents said they supported capital punishment in a Gallup poll.
In 2022, a Rasmussen Reports poll found even lower support for the death penalty, with only 46% of respondents supporting it.
Executions in Thailand
Thailand executed its first prisoner since 2009 in 2018, a move condemned by Amnesty International as a “deeply misguided” attempt to reduce crime. In 2018, Theerasak Longji, 26, was executed by lethal injection at Bang Kwang Central Prison in Bangkok’s northwestern outskirts. According to the department, he was convicted of the murder of a 17-year-old boy in 2012.
He was the seventh person to be executed by lethal injection since Thailand adopted the method in 2003 to replace firing squad executions. Prior to Monday, the most recent executions were of two Thai drug dealers in 2009.
“This is a heinous violation of the right to life,” said Katherine Gerson of Amnesty International’s Thailand campaign.
She claimed Thailand had broken a promise to abolish the death penalty and was out of step with a global shift away from capital punishment.
“There is no evidence that the death penalty has any special deterrent effect,” Gerson said.”Any further executions must be halted immediately by the Thai government,” she added.
When contacted by Reuters, Narat Sawettanan, director-general of the Department of Corrections, declined to comment. According to Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, most Thais support the death penalty, according to polls.
“We have many dangerous crimes… it is a necessity and the people’s will,” Prayuth said.
Thailand has some of the most overcrowded prisons in Asia, with the majority of inmates imprisoned for drug offenses. Various governments have had mixed results in addressing overcrowding.
According to Department of Corrections data, Thailand has 361,030 prisoners, 520 of whom are on death row.
In Thailand, capital punishment is available for 35 crimes, including murder and drug trafficking.