Unusual Undergraduate Research Project Yields Book on Botched Executions

Unusual Undergraduate Research Project Yields Book on Botched Executions 1

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The recent execution of an Oklahoma inmate, who died of a heart attack 43 minutes after receiving a supposedly 
lethal injection of drugs, was no surprise to a professor at Amherst College. The method is among the most prone to problems.

Among the many ways a college sophomore could imagine spending her summer, compiling a database of botched executions in American history is probably not high on the list. It would, after all, entail trolling through thousands of names, dates, and heinous crimes—then studying old newspaper articles to determine which of those hangings, electrocutions, gassings, and lethal injections had gone awry.

But Madeline Sprung-Keyser took on the challenge with relish and now says it was a