States continued to cluelessly tinker with lethal injection, passing new secrecy laws to shield themselves from scrutiny — and relying on those laws to illegally obtain execution drugs from sketchy providers as far-flung as India. (As a backup for unavailable drugs, Utah went ahead and brought back the firing squad.) In Glossip v. Gross, the U.S. Supreme Court gave constitutional cover to the states’ lethal injection experiments, upholding the use of midazolam for executions, despite its short, ugly track record — and telling prisoners it’s their job to find a suitable alternative. (In Missouri, two men now find themselves arguing that they should die in the gas chamber instead of by lethal injection.) And in a particularly surreal display of incompetence and corruption, the state of Oklahoma, fresh off its Supreme Court win, came within moments of killing (the likely innocent) Richard Glossip using the wrong drug — and later revealed it had used the same drug to kill a man in January.
As a case study in death penalty dysfunction, 2015 would be as good a year as any.