Today Someone Is Scheduled To Die
Today, a convicted cop killer is scheduled to die in Tennessee’s death chamber. And like almost all death row inmates in this country, he is to be executed by lethal injection.
I am completely opposed to capital punishment. First, the taking of a human life, even one of a person who has taken the life of another, is barbaric. Surely, punishment can be made without the use of death, and we don’t need capital punishment to hold criminals accountable for their crimes. Second, capital punishment is “cruel and unusual punishment,” which goes against the Eighth Amendment. Third, studies have shown that capital punishment does not deter violent crimes. Studies have also shown that without the death sentence, a jury is more likely to convict a murderer. In addition, cases of capital punishment can take several years, and the appeals are costly. These costs are made apparent by the Department of Justice reports, which show that almost half of the convictions that resulted in the death penalty had serious Constitutional flaws. Finally, there is a class and racial bias aspect to capital punishment. Statistics show that poor, underprivileged, and black criminals are more likely to be executed than their white counterparts. In addition, the death penalty is more likely to be imposed when the victims are white than when they are members of a minority group.
But I don’t want to argue about the pros and cons of capital punishment today. I just want to ask a question. My question, which was posed by Paula Zahn in her show on Monday, is: Do we need to come up with a more humane way of putting killers to death?
According to CNN, 52 of the 53 executions in the U.S. in 2006 were by drug injections, which is supposed to be a more humane way to die than methods like the electric chair. But because of gruesome disasters in death chambers and new research, the humanity of lethal injection is now being questioned.
Take Joseph Clark, for example. Clark was executed by lethal injection last year for murdering two people in Ohio. On his death bed, Clark was strapped across his chest and across his legs, with an intravenous line in his arm. First, he was put under anesthesia to make him unconscious in 90 seconds (otherwise, the lethal injection would make him feel like his veins and heart were burning up). Second, he was injected with another drug to paralyze his muscles and to collapse his lungs and diaphragm. Finally, he was injected with a drug to stop his heart.
But something went terribly wrong because after Clark was injected with the third drug to stop his heart, he raised himself up against the straps, yelling five times, “It don’t work. It don’t work.” At this point, the executioners drew the curtain so no one could watch. Instead of the normal 15 minutes or so, the process of putting Clark to death took nearly an hour-and-a-half.
According to CNN, no one knows how often lethal injections are botched and don’t work the way they’re supposed to, but a new study says it may be more often than previously thought. In fact, Dr. Jay Chapman, who invented lethal injections 25 years ago, thinks the use of lethal injection needs to be reconsidered. One reason for this is that executioners often have no medical training. Because lethal injection is a multi-step procedure that requires real know-how, many executioners who are not qualified sometimes mix drugs or have a hard time finding veins.
So, today, as one man is being put to death in Tennessee by lethal injection, I ask you–as Paula Zahn does: is lethal injection really humane?