January 22, 2011
Civil Executions

These sorts of stories must seem incomprehensible to the more adult portions of the world:

The only U.S. manufacturer of sodium thiopental, a chemical used in executions, said today it will stop making the product.

Hospira, based in Lake Forest, Illinois, said it never intended for its chemical to be used to kill people. It intended to start making sodium thiopental at a plant in Italy, but Italian authorities required the company to guarantee the chemical would not be used in executions, Hospira said on its website… Hospira suspended production of the drug in 2009, and many state prison systems have run out, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Look, people, we’re not putting poor old Rover to sleep here so he won’t hurt any more. We’re killing another human being and we don’t actually give a good goddamn whether it hurts him or not. We just don’t want it to hurt us. So we pretend it’s nothing but a painless medical procedure, sterile and strictly scientific. All done as Baby Jesus would do it, with loving concern for the poor sinner’s comfort.

Only a nation fundamentally childish could take any of this seriously. You want quick and painless? Luckily for you, extensive field work was carried out during the last century on modern, efficient, and economical ways of executing human beings. And — not that Stalin or Hitler or Mao cared — the winning technique just happened to be swift, sure, and painless. Here’s how the Mafia describes it: “Two in the head and you know he’s dead.”

Grow up for once in your life, America. The condemned man isn’t Rover, and you aren’t putting him gently to sleep so he can wake up in Doggy Heaven. Stop acting like you care, because you don’t. Or you wouldn’t be killing the guy in the first place.

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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at January 22, 2011 02:24 PM
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Electrocution was an effective manner of carrying out death sentences. It worked swiftly and rendered the inmate brain dead in miliseconds. Acquaintances have witnessed some in Virginia and reported that it went by the book, no flames, no additional charges needed, no blood.

Unfortunately some other states panicked over the thought of carrying out executions by this method and they jumped over to lethal injection. Injection carries considerably more challenge due to inmate individual characteristics and health ailments than electrocution.

The notion of sitting strapped to a hard back chair with electrodes attached to my head and leg seems much more fearsome prospect than lying on a gurney.

Posted by: Ed on January 24, 2011 3:36 PM

Somewhere I remember reading that the idea behind lethal injection was that, of the other execution methods used in America, it arguably offered the least basis for objection on the grounds of its being cruel. Oddly enough, this exact rationale was behind states adopting electricity for executions in the early 1900s. Doctors noticed that people killed by accidental electrocution suffered little disfigurement, and seemed to have died suddenly and painlessly. I don't think the motive here (or in the case of lethal injection) was primarily humanitarian so much as it was a concession to public reactions to the hair-raising stories then circulating about botched hangings, and the same could be said about electrocution and lethal injection today.

Posted by: Kid Shelleen on January 24, 2011 3:51 PM

I've witnessed executions by lethal injection. The inmates went very quickly after the dosages were administered. It was neither cruel nor unusual. The process was adopted in part to make it easier on witnesses. It looks just like a hospital surgery except the patient doesn't wake up. In comparison, there is no mistaking electrocution, gas, firing squad or hanging as being the forceful killing of an individual.

That being said, I do support capital punishment. There are crimes so egregious, the appropriate response of society is to remove the offender.

Posted by: Ed on January 25, 2011 8:22 AM
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