Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Use the firing squad. And televise it.

With tongue planted firmly in cheek, a North Carolina columnist weighs in on the lethal injection controversy:

Death need not be kind

What a bunch of snivelers. Whining, crying, bleeding hearts, worrying about the pain suffered by murderers meeting their maker at the hands of the state?

Why should we care?

The U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing the use of lethal injection, previously viewed as the most humane way to kill our own citizens.

Turns out it may not be so humane.

Not for the snivelers.

Lawyers for death row inmates now say the combo of drugs used to put inmates to sleep, then deliver the death blow, may be more painful than previously recognized.

The drugs may burn in the veins. A woman who had experience with one of the drugs during a failed sedation told a reporter it burned "like the fires of hell."

The drugs may paralyze the body but fail to ease the pain.

We've seen it here in North Carolina. Central Prison was the site of three "botched executions" on a list compiled by Human Rights Watch. The group cites information compiled in a lawsuit challenging our lethal injections.

The cases:

  • Willie Fisher, who beat and fatally stabbed his fiancee, executed March 9, 2001. After appearing to lose consciousness, Fisher began convulsing, and his eyes opened.

  • Killer Eddie Ernest Hartman, executed Oct. 3, 2003. As the drugs were being administered, Hartman's throat began alternately thrusting outward and collapsing inward. His neck pulsed, bulged and shook. Hartman's eyes were open, and his body convulsed and contorted throughout the execution until he died.

  • John Daniels, executed Nov. 14, 2003, for strangling his aunt. He lay still as the warden announced that the execution would proceed. Then he started to convulse. He sat up, and witnesses could hear him gagging. After lying down again briefly, he sat up, gagged and choked. His arms appeared to be struggling underneath the sheet covering him.

I have a solution.

Instead of looking at the cocktail of drugs that helps us best kill our own people, let's move to what we know works -- and quickly, too.

The firing squad.

Utah has it. Why not North Carolina?

After all, it's the most humane.

So says Fordham University law professor Deborah Denno, who has studied execution methods. Her research shows that, black hood and anticipation aside, waiting for five rifles to take aim at a piece of white cloth pinned to the heart is more humane than the sleepy needle.

That's because it's usually over in a flash. And while we're making changes, let's bring the death penalty out of that quiet room in Central Prison.

If we're going to kill our own people, let's do it in public, in the light of day, like other civilized countries. Iran doesn't perform its executions at 2 a.m. Not its legal ones, anyway.

Televise it. If we're going to execute our own people, let's own the deed.

Roll the tape and fire away.

If by chance one of the 4 shooters with real bullets should miss?

The prisoner will eventually bleed out.

I know you won't mind watching.

(source: Ruth Sheehan, News & Observer)

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