592 The Question Is... Executions


Tom Garrett 2 years, 10 months ago

I'm sure you've heard all the flack about lethal-injection drugs for executions being in short supply. They stem from companies not wanting their drugs to be used for that purpose, probably to avoid protesters.

Some states are so fed up that they are considering just going back to the former methods. Missouri has had great trouble getting some of the drugs it needs, so state Rep. Rick Brattin, has proposed making firing squads an option for executions.

"This isn't an attempt to time-warp back into the 1850s or the wild, wild West or anything like that," he says. "It's just that I foresee a problem, and I'm trying to come up with a solution that will be the most humane yet most economical for our state."

He adds that questions about the injection drugs are sure to end up in court, delaying executions and forcing states to examine alternatives.

He was right. I had no sooner read his words NPR, than I ran across this AP report:

"Scheduled Missouri execution temporarily stayed"

"The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule Wednesday on two petitions regarding Missouri death row inmate Herbert Smulls, the Missouri Attorney General's office said.

Smulls' execution was temporarily stayed late Tuesday with an order from the high court signed by Justice Samuel Alito. It was sent about two-and-a-half hours before Smulls was scheduled to die at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.

Smulls' lawyer, Cheryl Pilate, filed last-minute pleas, focusing on the state's refusal to disclose the name of the compounding pharmacy that produces the lethal-injection drug, pentobarbital, for use in the execution. But Missouri has argued that the compounding pharmacy is part of the execution team and therefore its name cannot be released to the public.

St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch said talk about the drug is a smoke screen aimed at sparing the life of a cold-blooded killer. He noted that several courts have already ruled against Smulls, including the U.S. District Court in Kansas City and the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Gov. Jay Nixon denied clemency Tuesday evening.

There is no question about Smull's guilt. He murdered Stephen Honickman in cold blood, entering a jewerly store and shooting down the clerks without warning.

In Wyoming a lawmaker this month also offered a bill allowing the firing squad.

A Virginia lawmaker wants to make electrocution an option if lethal-injection drugs are not available.

Some states already provide alternatives to lethal injection. Condemned prisoners may choose the electric chair in eight states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

Missouri and Wyoming allow for gas-chamber executions, and Arizona does if the crime occurred before Nov. 23, 1992, and the inmate chooses that option instead of lethal injection.

So the question is....

Do you think that we should go back to the old fashioned methods of execution wherever needed?


John Lemon 2 years, 10 months ago

Tom, I remain undecided on the issue of the death penalty in that both pro and con sides have legitimate points of view. As regards the means of execution: I recall that Utah made use of Firing Squad several years back. My thought is that the usual means of execution appear to be perhaps based on the opinions of observers more than criminals. Who can say that a Firing Squad's bullets or a hangman's noose or a medication is more humane for the inmate?


Pat Randall 2 years, 10 months ago

How does anyone be killed in a humane manner? Were their victims killed in a humane manner? Humane and killing don't belong in the same sentence. Maybe they should be done away with in the same way as their vicitms?


Tom Garrett 2 years, 10 months ago

John, I too have listened very carefully to the arguments of the "no death penalty" people. In the end, though, I reject them because they are almost always based on two premises which carry no weight with me.

One is the argument that there is nothing worse that executing an innocent person, and that since our system is often rigged against an accused we should never execute anyone. I reject that argument because I feel it would be far better to take a hard look at those who break the law in the name of the law, and stick them behind bars where they belong. What could be worse than unfairly convicting someone of a crime?

The other argument I reject is the one that points to the Ten Commandments, which I feel are directed at us as individuals, not at the government.

You are right about Utah, by the way. Just before I arrived there in the early 60's someone was executed by firing squad.

Pat, I don't know how to define "humane" in this instance. I guess we mean "with as little pain, as little fanfare, and as little induced fear as possible."

In the long run I agree with executions. I think the old thinking on the subject — a life for a life — is correct. No one should be able to deliberately take a human life without facing the ultimate penalty. It is just not right. It cheapens the value of a human life to say that it is worth just seven or eight years, which is what the average first degree murder case ends up being. If you deliberately kill someone you should have to do it knowing that you are killing yourself.

As to all the fooforah about execution chemicals, I do not understand why we have to buy them overseas. Just make them here. We make everything else — or we dang sure would if it were left up to me, but then that's another subject, isn't it?


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