Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Burning man

Last week the State of Georgia murdered Robert Earl Butts, Jr.

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Mr. Butts had been sentenced to death for his role in the killing of an off-duty prison guard in Milledgeville, Georgia when he was 18. The co-defendant, Marion Wilson, Jr., is still on death row.

Since Georgia can no longer obtain the drugs it needs to murder inmates, it turned to a compounding pharmacy to get the necessary (over)doses of pentobarbital. The drug was injected into Mr. Butts' body at approximately 9:42 pm. Mr. Butts made only one statement before he was pronounced dead at 9:58 pm.

As the drugs were injected into his body, Mr. Butts said "It burns, man."

Pentobarbital shouldn't burn. An overdose should cause a person to lose consciousness. Enough of an overdose would be lethal. The very fact that Mr. Butts felt a burning sensation during the execution means that the drug wasn't compounded properly.

As much as death penalty proponents say it shouldn't matter if the process causes the inmate to feel pain and discomfirt, it does matter. Supposedly the death penalty acts as a deterrent to others who might decide to commit a murder. It's not supposed to be an act of revenge.

A society is measured by the way it treats those who are least capable of taking care of themselves. It's also judged by how it treats those who have violated its laws.

The death penalty isn't on the books because it acts as a deterrent. We've been killing people en masse since the U.S. Supreme Court reversed itself and decided to allow states to go on killing again back in 1976, a mere 4 years after declaring it unconstitutional, and folks are still killing each other. No, the death penalty exists as a tool of social control. It is the epitome of legalized lynching.

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