Why do they sterilise lethal injection needles?

Trying to keep the humane touch when administering the death penalty.

22nd July 2009
Why do they sterilise lethal injection needles? (iStock)

Asked by: Paul Brown, Bristol

Hypodermic needles are sterilised during manufacture and supplied in sealed packs. It would be more expensive to specifically source unsterilised needles, just for use by executioners. However, prison doctors do still swab the condemned man's arm with alcohol, prior to inserting the needle. This is probably just out of habit and to prevent possible claims that the execution method is somehow less humane than it needs to be.


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