"And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God"
-- Micah 6:8

"The duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict."
-- American Bar Association Standard 3-1.2(c)

"There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia."
--Pope Benedict XVI, June 2004

Monday, April 24, 2006

News Flash: Death is Often Painful


Human Rights Watch, which openly "opposes capital punishment in all circumstances and calls for its abolition," is all teary-eyed about the possibility "that states put condemned prisoners at needless risk of excruciating pain during lethal injection executions." As far as I can tell from their report, there is no hard, conclusive proof that any execution was carried out with inadequate anethesia leading to an inmate's excruciating pain, and of course, we should all urge the penitentiary officials in charge of the protocols for these executions to ensure that that the inmate is sufficiently out of it before he's executed... but come now, aren't we getting a little sanitized about this? Just a few years ago, Virginia was electrocuting people, which I assure you, causes major discomfort to the condemned prisoner. As a matter of fact, we still offer you the option, if you prefer going out like a man instead of being put down like a rabid dog.

But this is part of the abolitionist agenda: shift the focus from what the condemned did to the remote possibility that he might actually feel some pain while dying. And of course, if the condemned feels pain, that must violate the Eighth Amendment, right? So it goes.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tom, First of all, people are often sentenced to jail and death without conclusive proof of anything. To some this is injustice, to others (i.e. prosecutors) it is a challenge. Indeed, most people that are in any way involved in criminal defense will listen to poor people (a.k.a. defendants) whining that there is just “circumstantial” evidence or the like. I am sure that you have sent many a person to jail on “circumstantial” evidence (ruining their meaningless lives and stupid families). But, there is nothing wrong with this, and I don’t fault you for doing your job.

The standard of proof in a 1983 or habeas action (a distinction you seem to gloss over in previous posts) is a simple preponderance, so you are simply setting the bar too high.

Finally, there has been testimony from people that have been injected with some of the tranquilizers used to execute people (these people were having surgery) about just how painful it is. Whether it is true or not is another question, but it in this era of global terrorism, Americans have to be very careful to think rigorously and accurately state the controversy.

Anonymous said...

So Tom -- what do you think of the idea of an "evolving standard" of "cruel and unusual?" Are we fixed in 1793, or can we take a quick survey and see what counts as "cruel" today?

Anonymous said...

I think lethal injections are for our benefit more than the criminal's. We shelter our kids from violence on TV, why not shelter them from seeing violence in real life? In reality, we are squeamish about executions, and want them as clean as possible. My prediction is that HRW's painless-execution binge will go nowhere, because things are as clean as they need to be. No blood, no eyeballs on the floor, everyone's happy.

Anonymous said...

I don’t know why are you “execute them all” freaks are so against televising executions from start to finish. Kids need to know what it looks like to watch a man die. In fact, since even states like Virginia don’t execute that many people, all public school kids can take a few minutes every week or so to watch these executions. This way, at least we can have an honest debate. (Whether we want to have interviews with the victims, the family, and the lawyers is another story.)

For fun, maybe they could show three executions at a time. But one of them would be of an innocent person, and the kids would have to place bets on whether they could guess which innocent person they watched die. If you disagree with me you are soft on crime.

Faithmy said...

The crazy parade has begun and I am just in time!!

Anonymous said...

Faith, If you do succeed in getting Tom to propose to you, will you invite me?

I know it will be a short ceremony.

Faithmy said...

Honey, I am already married. The only thing I would invite you to is a lynching.

Anonymous said...

Is this the way you people think? Nobody else on here makes veiled threats. You do.

Faithmy said...

Who is "you people"? Are you implying I am white? How dare you! Race baiter!

kateri61 said...

The irony of the whole thing - a state cannot/should not use lethal injection to execute a CONVICTED criminal because of some possible pain involved.

Yet - Terry Schiavo was allowed to starve to death - and everyone claimed it was painless.... which anyone who's even had a hunger-headache knows is a load of hooey.

Double standards abound in this issue. I guess it's all about who's dying - convicted murderers or an inconvenient wife.

Anonymous said...

You're married? In Vermont I assume.

Faithmy said...

No--I was married in Washington DC. So you can forget the direction in which your singular and unlpeasant mind was heading.

Anonymous said...

Kate, Although I generally don’t talk to lawyers, the constitution only applies to government actors (e.g. Tom, Scalia, Ted Kennedy). Even if a person were deliberately killed by someone that didn’t work for the government, their constitutional rights would not have been violated. Not one little bit. Pretty amazing.

While at the moment the death penalty is constitutional, someone is still being killed, and even the condemned may avail himself of the power of the courts to enforce the constitution against the government. If he was going to be executed by a private party (e.g. in a gang war) there absent a specific law demanding that people not kill each other, there would be no way for a court to intercede.

Have you considered watching less TV?