October 12, 2007

High Court Should Ban Lethal Injections

By David A. Love
Published by Progressive Media Project and McClatchy-Tribune News Service

The Supreme Court should outlaw lethal injection as cruel and unusual punishment.

This term, the nation's highest court has agreed to hear a case challenging lethal execution on the grounds that it violates the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Introduced in 1978, lethal injection was supposed to be a better alternative to hanging, the gas chamber, firing squad and electrocution—a clean, clinical, painless, more humane and therefore more acceptable form of capital punishment. It is used in 37 of the 38 death penalty states. Only Nebraska still prefers the electric chair.

Almost all states use the same three-drug cocktail of sodium thiopental (sodium pentothal), which induces unconsciousness, pancuronium bromide (or Pavulon), which causes muscle paralysis, and potassium chloride, which stops the heart.

But there are problems with lethal injection.

Death penalty critics say that sodium thiopental can wear off before the patient's heart stops, causing extreme physical and mental anguish. Moreover, the prisoner is in a chemical straitjacket and cannot tell anyone that he or she is in pain.

In its recent report, "Execution by Lethal Injection: A Quarter Century of State Poisoning,” Amnesty International notes that Texas, which executes more people than any other state, has banned the use of these chemicals on cats and dogs because of the pain they can cause.

The botched execution of Angel Diaz has added urgency to this case. The state of Florida put Diaz to death on December 13, 2006. But it took 37 minutes and two administrations of the drugs to get the job done. The first needle missed his vein, and Diaz was seen moving, blinking and mouthing words for 24 minutes.

Two Kentucky death row inmates—Ralph Baze, 52, and Thomas Clyde Bowling Jr., 54—sued their state in 2004 and have brought this challenge to the Supreme Court. It marks the first time the Supreme Court has considered the constitutionality of a method of execution since 1879, when the court upheld Utah's firing squad.

But this case is not just about Baze or Bowling. And it’s not just about the lives of the 3,281 men and 59 women who are on death row.

It’s also about what kind of country we are.

The justices should realize what more and more Americans are beginning to understand: There is no way to make lethal injection, or any other form of execution for that matter, humane.

Capital punishment is cruel and unusual punishment, whether a person is beheaded, strapped to a chair and electrocuted or laced to a gurney and injected with a deadly cocktail. It is a barbaric practice that most of the developed world, including the European Union, has outlawed, and it is a violation of international human rights law.

If these lethal injections are not suitable for pets, surely the court ought to find they are unsuitable for human beings as well.

Copyright © 2007 by David A. Love


Anonymous said...

If you don't like this humane way, then I suggest that anyone convicted of murder should die the same way as his/her victim...... I'm so tired of you bleeding heart liberals thinking you can tell us how to think. Try thinking of the victims of the crime for a change. All you are doing is looking for your 15 seconds of fame and believe me I for one am sick of the ALCU and all these other groups who think they know what is best for the entire country.

conservative always said...

An eye for an eye... that's how punishment should be decided. If you inflict pain on someone during a crime, or murder - you deserve the same. Maybe that would deter some of these criminals. Instead we worry that their execution might cause them some pain. Leave it to the liberals and the ACLU.

Warren Kuhn said...

I would agree to ban the Lethal Injection. It does sound cruel and unusual. As an alternative, death by the same method as the killer used would be acceptable. Cruel? Perhaps. Unusual, no. It's the same method the killer used. He should be very familiar with it.

And unless the killer held his victim for 15 years, we speed up the execution.

Anonymous said...

Is it not funny how criminals have more rights in this country than victims?? I see, you beat an old lady to death with a tire iron, but you should not get the death penalty because that is cruel and unusual punishment. (this is an actual case on hold in Nevada) No wonder we have such a problem with crime in this country, there are no consequences! And if you really screw up some ACLU rep or liberal is gonna kiss your ass because you are mistreated or had a bad childhood etc etc. Personally for me, if you beat my grandmother to death with a tire iron, you would not have to worry about the death penalty or the ACLU. I will kill you before you reach the courthouse steps!

Anonymous said...

Why is it cruel and unusual punishment to kill a criminal who has mercilessly beat an old woman to death with a tire iron?? Personally, a person who murders another person should die the same way that murderer killed their victim. It should be as painful and unmerciful as what their victim went through. You ACLU people just want something to gripe about. What about the victim?

Anonymous said...

Sure, outlaw the death penalty - then all those Americans who want it outlawed can pay taxes to keep the criminals alive. Make it a check on your tax form. All those who believe in the penelty, should get a tax beak. Let those who want to save the lives pay for them. The same way people with cars pay for road repairs through taxes.

Give me a tax rebate, and you can harbor as many psycopath murderers you want.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the author. None of the arguments for capital punishment hold water. It is neither cheaper, nor fair. If you do that then every other crime should have the same reciprocal punishment, but who rapes rapists, runs over someone guilty of vehicular homicide, and steals from thieves. It makes no sense, we have prisons, lock them up for life and try and remember all life is sacred or none of it is. Besides, God will deal very effectively with these people when it is time; God does not need our help. Anyway, I agree with the author.

Anonymous said...

Killers have rights. They have the right to NOT commit murder. Victims have NO rights, they have death.
I say make the death penalty as painfull as possible.
(Next we will be halting executions because it hurts the killers feelings!)

Youngest Baze said...

Alright, let's get this in perspective. My biological father is Ralph Baze. Law abiding, tax paying citizens are providing him with plenty of food (He used to be quite lean), medical care, cable tv, legal counsel, and a number of additional rights prisoners are entitled to. My mother, on the other hand, is in poor health with little assistance, no medical coverage, and struggles with whether or not to take heart medication because the local health clinic can't get her any more for a week. She is diabetic as well and only agreed to her open-heart surgery a year ago because I offered to make payments on the surgeon's bill. When she was run over by a car several years ago on the job, she had no one to pay for her legal counsel and it took 8 years or so just to get dentures to replace the teeth that were knocked out of her face. (I won't even get into the pins in her leg or the incredible pain she still deals with from that incident.) As violent people play legal games, they file so many law suits that somewhere, someone on the law's side makes a mistake. Some murderers and rapists walk away because of these technicalities. Do tell, what do they do next? According to our media coverage, they commit crimes similar to what put them behind bars in the first place. I have faith in our God in heaven, and I am quite familiar with how he handled the sinful that would not turn toward him. Let's see, they were often struck dead, burned with flame, or drowned. Hmmm....Humane? God's justice is rightousness, not made pretty witout pain. Mr. Love, if my father murdered your loved one, I can't help but wonder if you would stand by your notion that the death penalty should be abolished and that, while you grieve, the murderer is given everything and more that was stolen from you. Let me make it clear that I do not hate Ralph. There were fond memories in my youth that I hold dear. He is, in fact, a violent criminal and even I hurt for the victim's family everytime he gives a smug grin to the camera.