The three Rs have always been a factor in the treatment of convicted law breakers. That's restraint, rehabilitation and retribution. That last one gets hidden under the rug in Western nations, but retribution is a strong element in human nature. We don't let victims set the punishment, because the desire for retribution is too strong. So there's more rationality by assigning the penalty selection to an impartial jury.
The death penalty has been with us for quite some time, and lately there's been much needed attention to the possibility that the condemned might have been wrongly convicted. But for most there was no question. And protesters were left complaining about the death penalty in general.
Ordinarily the condemned is simply put to sleep. But with recent shortages of the necessary drugs, problems have occurred. One guy, Joseph Wood, didn't simply fall asleep:
The execution of a convicted murderer in Arizona lasted for nearly two hours on Wednesday, as witnesses said he gasped and snorted for much of that time before eventually dying.
This was so newsworthy to the publishers of the morning paper here in Midland, Texas, that they ran the same AP story about it two straight days in a row. They wanted to make sure everyone saw it, presumably.
However, consider that some crimes are truly awful, and victims have died after terrible suffering. For some horrendous crimes there was hardly a whimper about the death penalty. Few protested Timothy McVeigh's execution.
For some killers maybe getting put to sleep is too peaceful. When Osama bin Laden walked out of his bedroom he may not have even seen the firing squad that dispatched him. And he didn't endure anywhere near the suffering he inflicted on his victims. Had he been captured would simply putting him to sleep been enough to satisfy the retribution part of the three Rs?
So maybe jurors in death penalty cases should get another option in certain cases: slow death. Make it a feature, not a bug.