Wednesday, January 07, 2015

A Solution for Botched Executions in Capital Cases

Let me say up front that I, like most liberals, am against the death penalty. I think it's clear that all of the customary justifications for using it are bogus. If the leading death penalty state, Texas, who has executed 474 persons since 1976, still has a homicide rate of nearly 1200 murders a year, it doesn't appear that the death penalty is really any kind of deterrent.

The families of victims who have watched the executions of those who murdered a member of their family, with the hope of getting some kind of closure -- or revenge -- out of the experience mostly come away dissatisfied, without that feeling of closure. Many of them agree after witnessing it that, despite the crime that took away the life of their loved one, two wrongs don't make a right.

I am also not of that peculiar Orwellian mindset characterized by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Mormon), who once stated that "the death penalty is how we demonstrate our respect for human life."

Just last year, in Oklahoma and in New Mexico, executions by lethal injection (that's the "in" way to do it now -- even Utah did away with its firing squad) were botched so badly that it took hours for one of the condemned to die.

Now drug companies are running the other way because they don't want it known that they supplied lethal drugs for executions. I'm sure that wouldn't be good for the bottom line or for their stock valuations.

There is an easy solution to this. If we really are hell-bent on executing "the bad guys", there's a simple way to take care of it. Every police department of any size confiscates pound upon pound of heroin every year. After it is no longer used for evidence, that heroin is destroyed. By burning, mostly.

Everybody knows that the human body can take just so much heroin shot into it before it will shuffle off this mortal coil. Take some of that seized heroin and inject it into the body of the condemned man (or woman). Any street junkie can tell you what would be a normally fatal dose. Just double that amount -- or triple it, to be safe. It still won't be a tremendous amount. No drug companies are involved, no lawsuits by the families of the condemned man because of the botched execution, no "cruel and unusual" punishment. Just a long slow slide into a blissful oblivion.

If we are still going to insist on this barbaric 19th Century holdover, let's try to be a little smarter about it.

Member of Congress and State Legislators: You can have this idea for free. I won't even expect a shout-out when it is adopted.

You're welcome.