"Lethal injections were supposed to be a civilized step up from the brutality of electrocutions and the spectacle of public hangings. Former President Ronald Reagan described execution by lethal injection as just like falling asleep.
Alex Kozinski: I just think that the whole idea of using drugs is foolish.
Alex Kozinski is a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit which covers the West -- including Arizona, where Joseph Wood was executed. Kozinski was appointed to the bench by President Reagan and is one of the most prominent conservative judges in the country. He is in favor of the death penalty but is opposed to lethal injection.
Alex Kozinski: The state of Arizona and other states want to make this look like it's benign, want to make it look like "Oh, it's just a medical procedure." They ought to just face the idea that this is cruel and this is violent. And they ought to use some method that reflects that.
Bill Whitaker: Well, we used to do all kinds of things to kill people. We used to have the electric chair. We used to have the gas chamber. We used to hang people, even publicly.
Alex Kozinski: Many people were executed by electric chair but then it was switched away from that because it was thought to be something that caused pain.
Bill Whitaker: So, that's why most states moved to lethal injection.
Alex Kozinski: And as a result, those people who strongly opposed the death penalty moved to stop the flow of drugs that are available for execution. So now states have to scramble for ever-more-exotic drugs to try to carry out the death penalty.
Pharmaceutical companies also grew alarmed that drugs developed to heal were being used to kill and they refused to sell them for use in executions. The U.S. government now prohibits the import of the drugs. We found 15 states have begun to improvise their own lethal concoctions. The result: a number of bungled executions.
Alex Kozinski: I would eliminate the entire controversy. I would use a bullet or a series of bullets. They're fast. They're effective. Nobody ever survives.
Bill Whitaker: Go back to the firing squad?
Alex Kozinski: Make it look like an execution. Mutilate the body. And this would express the sense of that's what you're doing, that we're actually committing violence on another human being.
Bill Whitaker: I read that you have even thought the guillotine might be a good way to execute.
Alex Kozinski: Oh, yes.
Bill Whitaker: Really?
Alex Kozinski: The guillotine works. Never fails. It's quick. It's effective.
Bill Whitaker: You do know what that sounds like, hearing a judge sort of be an advocate for the guillotine?
Alex Kozinski: Tell me.
Bill Whitaker: Barbaric.
Alex Kozinski: The death penalty is barbaric. And I think we as a society need to come face-to-face with that. If we're not willing to face up to the cruelty, we ought not to be doing it.