Friday, July 25, 2014

Another day, another botched execution

On Wednesday there was yet another botched execution. This time it was in Arizona. This time the victim of the state's callous disregard for human life was Joseph Wood.

At 1:52 p.m. local time on Wednesday, Mr. Wood was strapped to a gurney and an IV was inserted into his arm. Through the IV tube flowed a mixture of midazolam and hydromorphone. Arizona, like many other states, has been scrambling to find alternative means of killing inmates now that many drug manufacturers refuse to supply the drugs to prisons.

As the drugs took effect Mr. Wood's eyes closed. But then, less than ten minutes after the execution began, Mr. Wood began to gasp for air. Some observers claim he gasped hundreds of times over the next nearly two hours before he finally died.

The typical execution by lethal injection lasts ten minutes or so - not almost two hours. There can be no question that the recent spate of problems can be traced either to the drugs or procedure used.

Of course every news account of this latest botched execution has to include the fact that Mr. Wood was convicted of two murders. But his past sins are completely irrelevant to the proceeding at hand. Supposedly the death penalty is supposed to serve as a deterrent to others, not as revenge for the victims. As such, the crime that landed the condemned man on death row is meaningless.

There is no equivalence. Mr. Wood was arrested, tried and convicted for his crimes. His punishment was to be carried out by the state - not by the family of the victims. He was being executed because of his crime against the state.

Of course then we have idiots like E.J. Montini of the Arizona Republic who contend that the execution wasn't botched because Mr. Wood ended up dead. If you read his piece you can only come to the conclusion that Mr. Montini hasn't developed the ability to step back from a situation and apply logic to it.

Members of the victims' family told reporters that they weren't concerned about whether Mr. Wood suffered during the execution because of what he did back in 1992. But did the pain of the loss go away after the botched execution? Was the family made whole again? Did the victims of Mr. Wood's crimes come back to life?

No. The whole is still there. The pain will never go away. Watching one person suffer for the death of another doesn't solve anything.

The investigation of the execution will be carried out by the state. There will be no independent investigation. The state will keep as much as they can under wraps. That's the way the game works now.

The death house is not the place to be conducting science experiments and that's what we're seeing as state after state try new ways to kill inmates. No one knows if any of these methods are humane. No one knows whether these new drug cocktails cause insufferable pain. No one knows whether the drugs do what they are supposed to do. At what point do we say enough is enough?

1 comment:

Lee said...

"They would have done better with an axe." - George Westinghouse