Tag Archives: Death Penalty

What do you think about the death penalty?

We just had an execution by lethal injection. Everything went fine. If, by “fine,” we mean a guy died as a bunch of people watched emotionlessly.

The execution was carried out so late in the process that only a few minutes passed between the pronouncement of death and and the expiration of the court order to kill.

What if the execution had taken twice as long? With the order expired, would it be stopped during the final minutes? Would someone dial 911, get EMTs in there, try to save the guy’s life?

I’m against the death penalty. I think it is time we recognized that this is the 21st century, and that we have this whole civilization thing. But, if we are going to execute someone, this absurd idea that somehow modern medicine can do a better job than the old methods is crazy. Perhaps our reluctance to use tried and true methods like hanging, beheading, and firing squad, all modern methods developed to replace the ancient horrible methods like crushing to death, burning to death, and stoning to death, is an indicator. Our preference to pretend that this is all very scientific and clean may be an indication that not very far below the surface we find the whole thing abhorrent. By pretending it is a medical procedure, painless, controlled, etc., we also pretend it is a civilized act to take the life of a person already imprisoned for life.

I’d rather live in a society where the argument “these people will not feel good about the horrible death of their loved ones until another horrible death has been carried out” is reserved for the anthropology textbooks, in the chapter on vengeance based societies.

By the way, I lived for years in a vengeance based society, a society in which all deaths, including from disease, or even being killed by a wild animal, were considered homicide, and the homicide should always be avenged. There were many deaths during my time there. Never once was a death avenged. The process of adjudication, of finding the party who caused the death (most likely by which craft) was very carefully done. The guilty party was always identified, but strangely, it always seemed to be an individual that lived very far away, that no one quite seemed to know well enough to find, or even bother looking for. So please don’t think that a tribal vengeance society is necessarily less civilized than our Western society.

But I digress. What do we do about the Death Penalty in America?

Killer spared from death hours before execution

Samuel David Crow “killed store manager Joseph Pala during a robbery at the lumber company in Douglas County, west of Atlanta. Crowe, who had previously worked at the store, shot Pala three times with a pistol, beat him with a crowbar and a pot of paint.”

There seems to be no doubt about his guilt or about the severity of his crime. Crowe pled guilty. In May, 2008, he was about to be strapped in and given a lethal injection. But the parole board gave him a break, commuting his sentence to life in prison.

Why did he get off? “….. his lawyers presented a dossier of evidence attesting to his remorse and good behavior in jail … The lawyers also said he was suffering from withdrawal symptoms from a cocaine addiction at the time of the crime.” Poor baby.

I’m thinking his being a white guy helped, what do you think? Maybe not. Who knows. Just sayin’


How to be against the death penalty and keep the kids off the lawn at the same time

People need to realize it is natural to want someone to die for a horrible deed they have done, just like it is natural to want to Rule the World or to get a Pony, but then also live with the fact that you don’t get the pony, world domination, or to snuff out a life because that life frightens or annoys you.

Ideally one might avoid the hateful emotion to begin with, but without the appropriate affective pathologies in place, or years of training, that’s rather difficult.

I often think of what Mike Dukakis should have said when asked what he would do if Kitty was raped and murdered by Willie Horton. He should have said “I’d want to kill the guy. But long before I had the chance the Criminal Justice System would kick in and there’d be due process.”


Thanks to Ruth Gaul Schleissmann for suggesting I change “OK” to “natural” … a natural substitution that is quite OK.

Day of Justice, Day of Shame: The killing of Troy Davis

I do not know for certain that Troy Anthony Davis is not guilty of killing Mark MacPhail, a Savannah Georgia cop. But I do firmly believe that there is more than reasonable doubt of his culpability to say he is legally not guilty, and I am not alone in thinking this. The other people who think this include Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter, dozens of members of congress, more than 500,000 petition signers, and … perhaps most significantly … seven of the nine witnesses who testified against him who have now changed their stories, and three of the original jurors who voted guilty. The case was based primarily on eye witness testimony, and if even one of the jurors at the time felt he was not guilty he would not have been convicted. Continue reading Day of Justice, Day of Shame: The killing of Troy Davis