An oxymoron of vast proportions

The inmate lies dead on a gurney and yet, in what can only be classified as complaints of futility, observations abound that the execution was “botched”.

The Lethal Injection Room of San Quentin State Prison in California, built in 2010.

The Lethal Injection Room of San Quentin State Prison in California, built in 2010.

After all these years of putting men and women to death, we still haven’t come to grips with the whole aspect of what the penalty entails, it seems.  We want the need for retribution that we have in our hearts to somehow exist happily alongside our desire to feel good about ourselves as enlightened human beings.  And knowing that we condone the killing of others, albeit as punishment for the worst crimes, doesn’t sit well with this ideal we’ve carved out as the best example of man.

An execution should never be a trip to the lake on a Sunday afternoon.  It should always be something horrific; an event that, if you had the misfortune or duty of witnessing one, would stay with you in your mind, like oil on the skin that can’t be easily washed off.

And in the beginning, that’s exactly what it was.  But as man has become more civilized, much of the edge has been taken off this last resort of the legal system.  In our quest to ensure that only the guilty die, we’ve maintained long appeal processes.  And while allowing inmates access to the full measure of the law in their efforts to gain their freedom, the fact remains that today being on death row amounts to almost a mini life span as an appeal process can take years.

Maybe it’s me but being sentenced to die should mean that you die, sooner rather than later.  It’s a necessary part of the protocol that no longer exists in the penalty and therein lies the deterrent that many argue isn’t present in the penalty as it’s handed down currently.

As more and more witnesses step up to give their account of Oklahoma’s botched execution of Clayton Lockett, we’ll begin to have a debate again about the death penalty and whether or not some ways that we administer it arise to what can be considered cruel and unusual punishment.

God forgive me, I’m OK with it if it’s determined that they are because for the life of me, in this day and age of tight state budgets, scant resources for education, housing or human services, I can’t see spending money that could be used for other projects on keeping the likes of a convicted Charlie Manson alive and well.

So let’s have the debate; just make sure that we’re debating the right thing; which should be the merits of the death penalty-either we have it or we don’t-and not whether it should be made a nicer, friendlier more politically antiseptic form of punishment.

Being put to death should be a scary thing.  As long as it’s like that, make sure we’re executing the right one and let the chips fall as they may.



Filed under Justice, Life and Society, Opinion

2 responses to “An oxymoron of vast proportions

  1. Great post… I just put up my own post on the death penalty today so I won’t repeat too much of it, but when I heard about what happened, my first response was “Oh great, here we go again, the abolitionists will be out in force”.

    I totally agree, the guy died, and so what if he suffered through 40 odd minutes? What did his victim feel while she watched her grave being dug? And what has her family felt every day for the last 15yrs? It amazes me how we as a society can care so much for people like Clayton Lockett, and care so little about the victims. In saying that though, those who oppose capital punishment don’t care about the criminal, they just jump on these events quickly to help push their cause.

    Sorry for the rant 🙂

  2. Yo, C.I.O. thanks for the comment and no need to apologize. You should hear me sometimes. And you might be right that there’s very little regard for the criminal themselves. If there was then we’d probably have some for real rehabilitation. God knows we could do it if we really wanted to. It just messes me up when we start complaining about the manner in which we execute someone. I kinda feel, either we do or we don’t, we will or we won’t. Whatever though, let’s not allow it to be this antiseptic thing that nobody fears. When that happens-and some might argue that it already has happened-what little deterrent the justice system affords us is lost. Anyway, thanks again, check back and holler back. Be good.

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