Friday, November 23, 2007

Lethal Injection to Get Supreme Test

On the cold prison gurney, Joseph Clark's eyes fluttered as he woke up from what was supposed to be his death.

read more digg story

Lethal injection is about to receive a much needed makeover. Sometime next year, the U.S. Supreme Court will render its decision in Baze v. Rees. While the issue focuses on the effectiveness of the three chemicals used to inflict death, there is little doubt that the death penalty will continue, at least for the next few decades.

The evidence is quite clear - the three chemicals frequently fail to work as intended, with the exception that the condemned person does eventually die. As the article notes, eyewitness testimony reveals that the condemned person may not die a quick and painless death.

Two shocking facets about lethal injection have been revealed. First, there are many individuals who continue to defend the current protocol despite evidence to the contrary. The evidence strongly suggests that the condemned person does frequently suffer, which brings me to the other point.

In reading letters to the editor and other sorts of commentary on the issue, I am dismayed at the number of individuals who want the condemned person to suffer. Lethal injection, even with its flaws, is too good for these individuals.

I have to ponder what kind of society we live in when a large segment wants to see others suffer physical pain. How far have we progressed from the gladiatorial exhibitions? The other troubling question is how can we progress as a society when a large segment want punishment, and painful punishment at that, inflicted for the sake of punishment alone? It seems that we have lost sight of the goal that punishment is supposed to bring about some utility - rehabilitation and/or specific deterrence.

I am not optimistic about our future at all.

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