Saturday, 19 January 2008

YOUR VIEW: Let's kill capital punishment

YOUR VIEW: Let's kill capital punishment

Americans should be terribly troubled that the U.S. Supreme Court is divided about whether a lethal injection used in 36 states causes excruciating pain in violation of the Constitution to those condemned to die by lethal injection.

Executions have stopped in Kentucky and other states. The use of a three-drug protocol has come into scrutiny due to the fears they cause excruciating pain to the condemned. If the first anesthetic does not take hold, the second paralyzes the prisoner, rendering him or her unable to express pain; a third drug stops the heart.

Some justices say there is no painless requirement in the Constitution. Injections have been stopped since September. Several justices want to continue the executions as before. A final decision should come by late June.

The fact that the Supreme Court is troubled by this issue is positive. I hope it is finally the beginning of the end of capital punishment in America. It has been banned in most countries. Americans always had a love affair with capital punishment. And that love affair — like most affairs — must come to an end. Eighty percent once supported the death penalty, but the figures have come down to 69 percent. No American wants to serve on a death penalty jury case.

If this barbaric act is going to continue, we need to feel the injection of the deadly poison coming into the veins of the condemned. We need to feel the agony and the panic. We need to feel the horror because we are responsible for this process. This latest controversy regarding the death penalty makes me wonder when we are going to join the world and abolish this archaic and inhumane practice. It is not a deterrent to crime. It puts us back in the Stone Age.

I want to see the face and the suffering of the condemned, being paralyzed and experiencing excruciating pain. Before he or she dies, I want to feel it all. If it is the electric chair, I want to see if the condemned's head will catch on fire, like has happened before. I want to be there when the executioner messes up and the execution fails, and the court declares, "Kill him again." The second time it works. Imagine, even retarded people and minors have been executed.

We should not forget that the two Bush brothers in Texas and Florida lead the nation with 469 executions. It was a key factor that catapulted George W. Bush to the national stage and the White House.

If we want executions to continue, let's make them international public events when we kill any American. Public executions would show the whole world how far behind the United States is and how we seek revenge.

History shows that the rich need not worry about the death penalty. They get the best justice money buys, while the poor get government public defenders who often plea bargain in ways that make justice cry. Statistics have proven that capital punishment is a waste of resources in the criminal justice system.

In the death penalty debate, Americans are ambivalent about the whole process. Let's just kill the bad guys after midnight. Poison them, hang them, gas them, use the electric chair, but do not get me involved emotionally and psychologically. Every time America executes one of us, we are all culpable.

Life without parole is the alternative to the death penalty. Let's kill capital punishment. We have had enough Saccos and Vanzettis. How many innocent were executed?

We will never know.

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