Archive for the ‘Death Penalty’ Category

Leathal Injection: Is it too cruel and unusual?

January 7, 2008

A wonderful article in the Washington Post caught my attention today: The Supreme Court is currently torn over whether lethal injections are a painful capital punishment procedure, thus violating the Constitution’s protection from cruel and unusual punishment.

This brings up a couple issues for me. In my Constitutional Law class we discussed whether the Supreme Court should be involved in questions of degree. As my professor was a very conservative man, he of course said no. Taking a step back and analyzing the question myself, I’d have to agree. The purpose of the Supreme Court is to interpret the Constitution and then determine whether a specific law is clearly and directly in opposition to it (check out Marbury v. Madison for Chief Justice Marshall’s eloquent opinion of what exactly judicial review is).

If my opinion is correct, what place to judges have in analyzing whether something is “too costly” or “too painful” or “too burdensome”? In order for the Supreme Court to determine whether lethal injection is a cruel and unusual punishment, scientific review and evidence would have to be presented to the Court so that the Justices could come to a decisions. Justices are in no way qualified to make a ruling on such matters; it is not in their expertise, nor was it ever meant to be. They are not doctors; they are judges.

As Justice Scalia so tenderly put it, “this is an execution, not surgery.” (High Court Divided Over Lethal Injection, Washington Post)

However, I must disagree with Justice Scalia’s opposition to a painless death for those convicted of murder and even the death penalty itself.

In 2006, the only known countries to utilize the death penalty were Bahrain, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, North Korea, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mongolia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Uganda, the United States of America, Vietnam, and Yemen (Amnesty International), and 91% of those executions took place in SIX countries: China, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan, and the United States.

As a country that fosters democracy and has spent excessive amounts of money and man power on “saving” the barbaric government of underdeveloped countries, it is quite ironic (and rather hypocritical) that we find ourselves grouped with these very same countries for such an issue. This is a really well done diagram I got off Wikipedia as far as the distribution of the death penalty http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Death_Penalty_World_Map.png

I just can’t see how murdering someone who murdered someone else somehow magically sets the world right again. Perhaps if I was the mother of a child who was raped and violently murdered, I would change my mind. However, at this point in my life, I cannot see the logic, and I know that I could not live with myself if I were responsible for the intentional murder of another human being. Yes, that person should be in prison for the rest of his or her life, but who are we to decide that that person’s life is no longer of value? And can you imagine the pain that is put on that person’s loved ones when they find out that their son, daughter, spouse, friend, etc. is to be put to death? Why must we punish more innocent lives? Why must we cause more people to suffer? What good does this do? What justice does this bring to the world?

Christians that promote the death penalty drive me the most insane. One of those messages that Jesus was always rambling about was letting God be the judge… i.e. How can you point out the splinter in your brothers eye when you do not see the low in your own? Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, etc.

In conclusion… if we want to get rid of the death penalty, or perhaps just rectify any flaws with lethal injection, it is up to the people to bring their opinions to their representatives. We can’t depend on the Supreme Court to do all of this work for us.