Friday, April 18, 2008

Supreme Court Exercises Common Sense In Death Penalty Ruling

Apparently, death can potentially be painful. Amazingly enough, our Constitution does not mandate that executions (gasp...death penalty!) be completely painless. Despite the efforts of the more sensitive folks, the Supreme Court has ruled that lethal injection is okie dokie:
"The Supreme Court yesterday upheld Kentucky's use of lethal injections for death-row inmates in a 7-2 vote, describing the process as "more humane" and ending a national halt on executions.

Opponents had argued that the three drugs used to render an inmate unconscious, then paralyze him and finally induce a heart attack — sodium pentothal, pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride — constituted cruel and unusual punishment if not properly administered. The drugs have been used in more than 1,000 lethal injections.

Justice Ginsburg, in writing the minority opinion, said it was "undisputed" that the second and third drugs used in Kentucky's lethal injection protocol would cause "a conscious inmate to suffer excruciating pain" if not properly administered."

Well, let us hope that Ginsburg's grasps at straws are unfounded, and that no inmate that has been sentenced to death suffers an improperly administered dose of pain killers. That would break my heart! I'm still trying to figure out why Ginsburg is discussing the effects of the drug on a conscious inmate...isn't that what the first drug is for? Silly me.

This debate could go on for centuries. Executions do indeed get botched from time to time. This is not a new concept. Making death completely painless is not the solution to this problem. The Constitution doesn't guarantee painless execution as it is. Standardizing executions is what we truly need. We need to administer executions by a mechanical means that can be regulated and standardized (and publicized). If the death penalty was completely painless, how great of a deterrent would it be? Let's not get started on the lack of deterrent effect due to long times spent on "death row." That's another post in itself.


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