24.4.07

Shoddy Execution

According to a new study, execution drugs apparently sometimes do not work. To clarify that a bit, they do work, in that they do their job and kill the guy. It's fairly hard to botch that part. However, lethal injections are supposed to put down the inmate without causing pain. From the article:

Most states use three drugs — thiopental, an anesthetic; pancuronium bromide, a nerve blocker and muscle paralyzer; and potassium chloride, a drug to stop the heart. Each is supposed to be capable of killing all by itself, but if not, the anesthetic is supposed to render the inmate unconscious while the other drugs do the job. Even when administered properly, the three-drug lethal injection method appears to have caused some inmates to suffocate while they were conscious and unable to move, instead of having their hearts stopped while they were sedated, scientists said... The study concluded that the typical “one-size-fits-all” doses of anesthetic do not take into account an inmate’s weight and other key factors. Some inmates got too little, and in some cases, the anesthetic wore off before the execution was complete, the authors found.

I don't really see how any of this matters. Sure, it may hurt for a few minutes. In the grand scheme of things, inflicting any amount of pain is small potatoes compared to killing them. Some anti-death penalty advocates claim that this shows lethal injection violates the 8th amendment's ban of "cruel and unusual punishment". Again, I'm not too concerned. Personally, I think the lone act of sentencing someone to death is much more cruel than anything else you can do to him. In the Idiot, Dostoevsky explains it better than I could.

“It’s a good thing there’s not much suffering,” he observed, “when the head flies off.”

“You know what?” the prince picked up hotly. “You’ve just observed that, and everybody makes the same observation as you, and this machine, the guillotine, was invented for that. But a thought occurred to me then: what if it’s even worse? To you it seems ridiculous, to you it seems wild, but with some imagination even a thought like that can pop into your head. Think: if there’s torture, for instance, then there’s suffering, wounds, bodily pain, and it means that all that distracts you from inner torment, so that you only suffer from the wounds until you die. And yet the chief, the strongest pain may not be in the wounds, but in knowing for certain that in an hour, then in ten minutes, then in half a minute, then now, this second—you soul will fly out of your body and you’ll no longer be a man, and it’s for certain—the main thing is that it’s for certain...

...To kill for killing is an immeasurably greater punishment than the crime itself. To be killed by legal sentence is immeasurably more terrible than to be killed by robbers. A man killed by robbers, stabbed at night, in the forest or however, certainly still hopes he’ll be saved till the very last minute. There have been examples when a man’s throat has already been cut, and he still hopes, or flees, or pleads. But here all this last hope, which makes it ten times easier to die, is taken away for certain; here there’s the sentence, and the whole torment lies in the certainty that there’s no escape, and there’s no greater torment in the world than that.


The only real 'humane' form of capital punishment would be to have all death row inmates fight each other to the death in gladiator combat. There would at least be the possibility of survival, and as I have said before, death in combat is better than death strapped to a table.

I don't care about how humane the execution is. I don't care about the deterrence argument. There has been nothing close to conclusive evidence for either side. I don't care about the cost argument. This is not an issue I want decided based on fiscal management. I don't care about the racial discrimination argument. That may be an issue with the legal system as a whole, but it is irrelevant here. I don't care if the murder has reformed and started writing children's books or not. I don't care if he can heal my urinary tract infection by grabbing my penis. There is only one reason to kill a criminal: retribution. If a private citizen does this, we call this 1st degree murder (punishable by death, in some states). As long as someone is in prison, and is no longer a threat to others, then killing him is murder.

Murder is a federal crime. Therefore, I would have the DoJ prosecute anyone involved with any future executions. I don't need to bother with calling a moritoreum so we can do more research into the issue.

1 Comments:

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