Monday, May 05, 2014

Stone Him!

(Cartoon by Joel Pett, published 5/4/14 in the Lexington Herald-Leader and featured at McClatchy DC.  Click on image to enlarge.)

I keep waiting for the people of this country to finally be so shocked by yet another botched execution that the death penalty will become a shameful action relegated to the past.  Obviously the time hasn't yet come.  After the latest horror story in Oklahoma, the most people are willing to concede is that death by lethal injection can be awfully painful, and maybe we ought to find a more "humane" way for the state to kill.

Here's how some state officials reacted to that latest execution as noted in McClatchy DC:

After a grisly history of electrocutions, gassings, hangings and firing squads, it is the cold, quiet science of lethal injections that has become America's most common and favored method of executing its worst criminals.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled six years ago that such injections did not violate the Constitution's provisions against cruel and unusual punishment, clearing the way for states to administer the lethal cocktails under their own, sometimes secretive, protocols.

But a gruesome lethal injection gone wrong in Oklahoma has dealt death penalty supporters a potentially stunning setback this week, coming at a time when popular support for capital punishment has fallen and reliable lethal-injection chemicals are becoming harder and harder to get.

Clayton Lockett's unwieldy execution has triggered an already controversial internal investigation and prompted calls for a lethal-injection moratorium across the U.S., with experts predicting the Supreme Court will face greater pressure to rule on whether states can refuse to tell inmates the makeup of the drugs that are being used to end their lives.

"The public has a right to know how we are carrying out this very grave responsibility of the state," said Oklahoma state Sen. Connie Johnson, one of several state lawmakers calling Wednesday for a yearlong moratorium on executions in the state. "This is the worst thing that the government does. This ought to be the most transparent."   [Emphasis added]

Execution for the commission of a crime, any crime, is barbaric.  The language used in the article (especially the part I've emphasized) makes the point beautifully, and (I suspect) that is the point.  Most civilized nations have outlawed it, and I don't see how their murder rates have soared as a result.  Clearly the death penalty is not a deterrent.  It is a form of revenge, and we ought to be beyond that phase.

At this point, I guess the most we can hope for is that less painful, gentler method of committing state sanctioned murder that I mentioned at the start.

Kyrie Eleison.

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