The Death Penalty Kinda Sucks: Updated

Never Say Die

Another botched execution, this one in Ohio. They tried for two hours to find a vein and finally gave up. They want to try again next week. The man’s lawyers argue that this would be “cruel and unusual punishment” and is therefore unconstitutional.

Cruel, certainly. Unusual? Well, this was the first time since “lethal injection” became the norm that executioners failed to kill a condemned person during the course of a single execution session, however lengthy. But there was nothing unusual about the cruelty.

In our country, if a death sentence were pronounced honestly, it would sound like this:
You are hereby sentenced to death. Before you are killed, you will be taken a maximum security prison, there to be held in isolation for twenty-three hours of every day in conditions of solitary confinement. The length of this imprisonment is indeterminate but unlikely to be less than ten years. Though it may be as few as two or three years, it is more likely to be twenty or more. At intervals you will be told that you will be put to death on a certain date. Neither you nor your jailers nor anyone else will know which of these dates will prove to be the correct one. You will suffer depression, extreme anxiety, and, most probably, severe mental deterioration. On one of these dates, you will be strapped to a gurney and poisoned by intravenous injection of lethal chemicals. Your execution may take an hour or more. Your death is likely to be accompanied by unbearable pain, though this will not be apparent to witnesses because one of the chemicals will have paralyzed you, preventing you from crying out or moving.
For the Ohio prisoner, a fifty-three-year-old man who committed his crime a quarter-century ago, there is an added fillip: he has been subjected to an elaborate mock execution, to be followed in due course by a “successful” one.
Update:  The title of this post was an attempt at understatement. I posted Hertzberg's piece because it illustrates just how horrible the death penalty is. As a friend put it: "The death penalty doesn't kind of suck, it is absolutely wrong."  I couldn't agree more.

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