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February 21, 2011

Lethal Injections Continue After Supreme Court Rules They Are Not Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Today a man in Georgia that killed his girlfriend in 1988 was executed by lethal injection. This was the first lethal injection since the Supreme Court ruled that lethal injection were humane. This stems from last month when the Supreme Court was asked to consider the fact that lethal injection might be cruel and unusual punishment.

I find the fact that the Supreme Court was called in on this one. If you are going to make executions legal, there is going to be a bit pain involved in the process. Is it really realistic for executions to be made completely comfortable for the person that is being executed? I mean, a life is being taken and taking the life of a human being is as cruel and usual as anyone can get.

It has been a long time coming and a major struggle for me to get to this point but yes, I do support the death penalty. I admit it is awful and it is cruel and usual punishment but I’ve seen some things that have been committed against innocent victims and those that committed them, needed to be removed from the planet. My decision to support the death penalty comes after a very liberal childhood were I wrote papers about how terrible the death penalty is and how we have no right to judge a person to that degree. On the surface, it is that simple, but underneath, things get much more complicated.

What exactly do you do with people that have murdered others in cool calculating manners? Can you really rehab those people that put them back on the street to live a productive life? Maybe, but too many times the price that is paid is more innocent victims and I don’t know if the risk is worth the results. How many serial killers can be rehabbed? How many serial rapist can leave prison and go on to not rape again? The notion of rehabilitation is real but I think it has some serious limits.

Of course, there is that thing of what if they are not guilty, which, on occasion has been the case for some death row inmates. This is the part about the death penalty that disturbs me the most and keeps me inching back towards the nay side of the argument. Recently there have been some rulings that were overturned due to DNA evidence or evidence that showed that the experts were wrong and death row inmates had the charges dropped against them. A life can never be given back. If you execute the wrong person that is it. There is no retribution for that.

Lethal injection, firing squad, gas chamber, electric chair hanging, I mean really, isn’t it all the same? At the end of the procedure a life is gone and even the loss of a life gone wrong is cruel and unusual. Execution is our imperfect answer to troubling crimes that keep us up at night. There is no way to make it prettier or simpler for those that die.

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