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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 4/4/19

The Death Penalty Is Getting Crueler

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From Other Words

A horrific new ruling would let states execute people in more painful ways, even when alternatives are available.

Death Penalty
Death Penalty
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In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled that people with intellectual disabilities cannot be executed. In 2005, another ruling held that the U.S. cannot execute anyone for committing a crime as a minor. Twenty states have banned capital punishment.

The most recent to ban it are Washington in 2018, Delaware in 2016, Maryland in 2013, Connecticut in 2012, and Illinois in 2011.

Unfortunately, our newly right wing-dominated Supreme Court recently made a move in the opposite direction.

The Eighth Amendment bans cruel and unusual punishment. Capital punishment has been becoming more unusual over the past decade or so. Now, with the court's help, it's becoming more cruel.

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The state of Missouri is set to execute Russell Becklew, a man who suffers from a rare condition that will make death by lethal injection unbearably painful. He's requested to be executed by a different method that will be quicker.

Established precedent was that inmates contesting their method of execution must provide an alternative that would cause less pain. Becklew has.

In the two previous cases that established this precedent, the court ruled that states should try to minimize pain when carrying out executions. In a new decision, Trump-appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch has just accepted an interpretation of this promoted earlier by Justice Clarence Thomas that it only means that states should not "intentionally" make executions more painful than necessary.

Why?

Honestly, why? If the prisoner is going to be executed anyway, and we are no longer debating his or her innocence, or the fairness in how we apply the death penalty, or whether it can ever be just to kill another human, what interest is there for the state in making the execution more painful?

Russell Bucklew has requested to be executed via a less painful method, and the court has just ruled against him. He will suffer more as a result. How does this benefit the American people in any way?

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Humans make mistakes, and sometimes we execute the innocent. Even when the person executed is guilty, courts give harsher sentences to more marginalized peoples than to more privileged people for committing the same crime. The wealthy can hire top notch lawyers whereas the poor receive public defenders. People of color are disproportionately sentenced to death.

Given that the death penalty is applied imperfectly, even when lawyers, judge, and juries all do their best to make it as fair as possible, we should aim to move in the direction of less cruelty, not more.

 

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Jill Richardson Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Jill Richardson is the proprietor of the blog La Vida Locavore. She writes on food policy issues and she is currently working on her first book, due out in 2009.

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BFalcon

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  New Content

Misinformation on Bucklew:

http://www.news-gazette.com/opinion/editorials/2019-04-03/editorial-pain-and-punishment.html :

"Bucklew argues that he suffers from a condition known as "cavernous hemangioma" that would cause blood vessels in his throat to rupture during lethal injection, As a consequence, he alleges, he would choke to death on his own blood."

I don't believe that his argument has any medical merit.

Submitted on Thursday, Apr 4, 2019 at 4:11:30 PM

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Richard Pietrasz

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Reply to BFalcon:   New Content

As a court case, the facts make a difference. Unfortunately, many in the Supreme Court have contributed to decisions that are blatantly un-Constitutional by lying about the facts.


However, your link is pretty much worthless. OpEd pieces, especially in the MSM, are often misleading or outright lying about the facts; that is often true of newspaper articles too.

Submitted on Thursday, Apr 4, 2019 at 8:44:27 PM

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BFalcon

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Reply to Richard Pietrasz:   New Content

You are probably quite wrong.

Explanation sounds plausible, you find me if Bucklew claims something else, not cavernous hemangioma.

And the fact that it might rupture during lethal injection is ludicrous, that he would "choke in his blood" prior to dying from the injection just more ludicrous.

Submitted on Friday, Apr 5, 2019 at 11:12:02 PM

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John Jonik

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And the death penalty still insanely, perhaps suicidally, teaches too many that killing is an option...a state-sanctioned Problem Solving Tool...one that inures many to the horrors of killing.

Submitted on Thursday, Apr 4, 2019 at 10:31:27 PM

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