Last week Gregg Easterbrook argued that shooting death row inmates in the head is the most humane method of execution. Nicholas Jackson gives details on lethal injection. It seems more humane to me, and I worry that shooting people in the head may actually give pleasure to those motivated by revenge or sadism. I find all such murders by the state repugnant and, as a Catholic, categorically wrong. The details, which we should all know more about, below:

At the warden's signal, between one and three chemicals are injected into the IVs, separated by a saline solution used to ensure that the chemicals do not mix. The first, sodium thiopental, is a barbiturate that puts the patient into a deep sleep. At the dose, between two and five grams, most often used in lethal injection cases, unconsciousness is induced in about 10 seconds. The second chemical, pancuronium bromide, acts as a paralyzing agent that freezes the diaphragm and lungs so that the patient stops breathing. As the patient is often legally dead after the first two injections, the third, potassium chloride, is only administered in some states. Potassium chloride stops the heart.

Ohio and Washington state use only the first chemical, sodium thiopental, but in such a large dose that the patient, after falling into unconsciousness, experiences the widening of blood vessels to such an extreme that blood pressure drops to a lethal level.

In Virginia, all three of the chemicals are used, though officials will not reveal their exact make-up.

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