Tuesday, January 16, 2007

On botched executions

The subject of botched executions has been in the news lately. First, we had the botched execution of Angel Diaz in Florida, a process that took 34 minutes when the needle attached to the IV was pushed through Diaz's vein and into his muscular tissue, causing chemical burns. Then we had the execution of Saddam Hussein. (Media reports focused on the taunting and the undignified tone of the event; left unexplored was the fact that Saddam had a huge, open gash in his neck, a sign that he was nearly decapitated.)

Finally, over the holiday weekend, we had the botched execution of one of Saddam's henchmen, Barzan Ibrahim, who in fact was decapitated.

The American public is probably unaware of the fact that there have been at least 38 botched executions in the U.S. since executions were allowed to resume -- and those are just the ones we know about. Because of the way cut-downs are sometimes done and catheters inserted prior to the lethal injection process, and because the cut-down operations generally are done outside the view of witnesses, we really don't know how often botched executions occur -- but they do seem to happen much more frequently than anyone once imagined.

For a list of botched executions that we know about, go here.

1 comment:

Keith said...

I have recently begun taking a closer look at the death penalty. I will be honest with you--I have no qualms with the death penalty; I have never met anyone that is adamently against the death penalty.

I find it interesting that (it seems) there is more sympathy for those on death row than their victims. I truly don't understand the logic that bemoans the "cruel and unusual punishment" of the "botched execution" of someone like William Vandiver. Following the link in your post, I read that Vandiver [stabbed his victim] in the back with a fish filet knife "at least 100 times." 34 deep knife wounds were later discovered on the body. He hit him in the head 5 or 6 times with his gun, but he was still breathing. By Vandiver's own admission, decapitation was the immediate cause of death. Vandiver and the other family members then sectioned up the body while making jokes.

Could you please explain how Mr. Vandiver's "suffering" is more tragic than that of Paul Komyatti, his victim. From the account cited above, it appears to me that Vandiver premeditated the murder and acted completely without remorse for his actions.