Thursday, August 1, 2013

Update: Texas kills an unrepentant man

Some folks make it harder to argue for the abolition of the death penalty than others. Douglas Feldman, who was murdered by the State of Texas last night, is one of them.

The former financial analyst who was sentenced to death as the result of two killings ascribed to road rage, bragged about the killings after being asked if he had any last words. According to Mr. Feldman, he sentenced the two men he killed to death and then carried out the executions.

Mr. Feldman's road to the death house began when he told police he killed the two men after he was arrested for shooting another man at a convenience store. The two truck drivers had been shot and killed a week before but, up until Mr. Feldman's admissions, the crimes were unsolved.

He complicated his case further by writing to an ex-girlfriend that the murders provided him with satisfaction and that he had fantasized about killing others. To make matters even worse, Mr. Feldman took the stand at trial and admitted to not only the murders, but other criminal acts that he had never been charged with.

But, despite how repulsive you might feel Mr. Feldman's remarks were, strapping him down to a gurney and pumping an overdose of a barbiturate into his bloodstream accomplished nothing. The victims of his crimes were still dead.

From the Houston Chronicle:
He appeared very nervous, breathing quickly and his feet twitching under a sheet. As the drug began taking effect, he grimaced twice, took a few deep breaths and began snoring. Then all movement stopped.
The protocols surrounding the premeditated murder of inmates call for death to be as painless as possible. The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. The drug Texas uses to administer the overdose is supposed to put the inmate to sleep and then kill him.

But why did Mr. Feldman grimace after the drug was administered? Was he grimacing out of fear of dying or was he grimacing because of pain? We will never know because the only person who can answer that question is now dead.

I'm sure there are those who aren't concerned about whether or not the person strapped down to the gurney suffers any pain. Mr. Feldman didn't appear to be too concerned about the pain his acts caused to his victims, after all. But that's not the right comparison.

The question isn't whether the condemned man cause pain and suffering in the course of killing his victim. The question is whether or not the government should have the power to take a man's life. We don't live in the age of an eye for an eye. We've been through something called the Enlightenment. When we allow our government to strap people down and kill them we are lowering ourselves to that level. We are allowing our emotions to overcome our ability to think rationally.

Killing serves no purpose other than revenge. And seeking revenge isn't the proper role for government.

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