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The Death Penalty: More Opposition Less Justice? Part I March 7, 2007

Posted by Daniel Downs in death penalty, freedom, law, news, politics.
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Judge Legal opposition to the death penalty is in the news again. In a recent National Law Journal article entitled “More Lawmakers Take a Stand Against Death Penalty,” Vesna Jaksic says the eleven states have halted all or some executions, and more states are evaluating the issues surrounding death by lethal injections. Why? The reasons include problematic executions, wrongful convictions, court rulings against the practice of lethal injections, judicial finance.

A number of recent botched executions have raised issues about lethal injection. Several situations have contributed to the concerns. For example, a number of executions have taken much too long. Jaksic reports:

In California, officials took 12 minutes to find a vein in the muscular arm of the co-founder of the Crips gang, Stanley “Tookie” Williams, who was executed in December 2005. In May, similar problems occurred in Ohio, where Joseph Clark’s execution took about 90 minutes. Also, this past December, Florida inmate Angel Diaz had to be given a second dose of drugs and needed 34 minutes to die.

Other executions have required repeated injections before the murder died. These types of problems raise the question whether death by lethal injection results in cruel and usual punishment, whether those who administer the injections have been properly trained, and whether the difference drugs or dosages are needed.

Expanding on the problem of wrongful convictions, quoting Richard Dieter of the “Death Penalty Information Center,” Jaksic explains>:

“One of the reasons the death penalty is under attack now is that many lawsuits only recently worked their way through the system to reach higher courts. In addition, a number of death row inmates were exonerated in recent years thanks to DNA evidence, putting the issue under a national spotlight.”

Money is another reason motivating some politicians to oppose the death penalty. Some states report they spend from $76,000 to $400,000 more to process and imprison a death penalty defendant than it does to keep someone serving a life sentence.

All of these reasons are valid. They impact the lives of all Americans. There are other issues not addressed in Jaksic’s article such the impact on victim’s family, the social costs, and the cost of insecurity. Those issues will be covered in the next post in The State of America.

Picture was provided by Fotosearch.

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Comments»

1. markrmorris2 - March 9, 2007

Well alrighty then, how about life without parole at hard labor and make every penny of what they earn go to pay restitution? I might could live with that. It is not acceptable to just put them in a box and let them live out their days, there must be more of aprice than a loss of freedom for such heinous crimes.

2. Pamela Pate - March 22, 2007

A big AMEN to that!!!
Pamela Pate

3. PB and J - March 25, 2007

daniel

i think there are so many issues at stake with the death penalty. we cant look at the system in the hypothetical. as it is in the US, the system is broken. there is no deterrent and it isnt speedy justice.

so before we address what is right about it, we must be willing to fix the current system. therefore, we must present a way to make it work, otherwise we are just complaining without giving a solution.

peter

4. Daniel - March 25, 2007

I agree. A return to first principles would be a good starting place, which is my point in the PartII.

5. Kaletha - April 4, 2007

I think that if someone committed a bad crime they should pay for it especialy if they took someone’s life away then your life should de taken away also. But if it’s something small that isn’t a big deal then let them go to prison why be put to death when you did’nt put someone else to death.

6. Daniel - April 4, 2007

You are right about justice; punishment should fit the crime.


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