Sunday, January 19, 2014

Opinion — The Appropriate Tools To Carry out Judicially Approved Homicide

Southern Ohio Correctional Facility

I’m not an expert on death; but as a mystery writer I am not only interested in how it occurs but it’s use as a punishment, usually reserved for people who commit murder.  And while I have  wished death or worse on people who have done unspeakable things to others, for as long as I can remember I have been anti-death penalty. My views have only been strengthened by the science of DNA and the eye-opening work of the Innocence Project.  Many innocent people have landed on Death Row. 

But let’s assume executions are based on infallible court decisions, which they cannot be and that they are a legitimate crime deterrent, which they aren’t or that they are at least cost-effective, which isn’t true, is it necessary to carry it out in such a gruesome manner?  The evolution of executions in the U.S. has tended toward the more civilized. No more stoning. The guillotine is gone. Public hangings have disappeared.  The electric chair and gas chamber have been rendered obsolete. Yet, despite our advanced technology, we cannot develop a quick, painless, means to an end.

“As the lethal drugs flowed into his veins in the Ohio death chamber, Dennis B. McGuire at first “went unconscious” and his body was still, his daughter, Amber McGuire, said Friday.
“’But a few minutes later,’ she said, ‘she was horrified to see her father struggling, his stomach heaving, a fist clenching.’’’
“’He started making all these horrible, horrible noises, and at that point, that’s when I covered my eyes and my ears,’” said Ms. McGuire, who watched the execution on Thursday at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, near Lucasville. Mr. McGuire’s execution, conducted with a new and untested combination of drugs, took about 25 minutes from the time the drugs were started to the time death was declared. The process, several witnesses said, was accompanied by movement and gasping, snorting and choking sounds. “ — New York Times, January 17, 2014.
Unless the death penalty is supposed to exact vengeance against both the criminal and his or her family, shouldn’t we simply put the intended on a slow drip of increasing doses of morphine or abolish the death penalty altogether?

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