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Outlaw the death penalty

April 30, 2014 - Andrea Johnson
The horribly botched execution yesterday of Clayton Lockett by the state of Oklahoma is yet another reason why the death penalty ought to be abolished.

The cocktail of drugs used to kill Lockett were a combination never tried before in that state and left the man writhing in pain and clenching his teeth on the gurney. A doctor ordered the execution stopped. Forty seven minutes after the whole thing began, Lockett died of a massive heart attack. Oklahoma was using this particular combination of drugs – midazolam, followed by a paralytic drug, followed by potassium chloride to stop the heart – for the first time. According to news reports, there is an ongoing civil rights lawsuit against Ohio over the January lethal injection of an inmate who died gasping and snorting, as though in pain.

The U.S. Constitution forbids cruel and unusual punishment. This is, without a doubt, cruel and unusual punishment.

Unsurprisingly, there are any number of comments on Internet news forums from people baying for blood, most saying that Lockett didn't suffer nearly long enough. Lockett's crime was a particularly heinous one. He was sentenced to death for shooting a 19-year-old girl and standing by as his cohorts buried her alive. No one would argue that a crime such as this should go unpunished or that we should be unmoved by the suffering of the victims. But such a crime also does not give us leave to torture the murderer to death.

In my judgement, the death penalty is only permissible in cases where there is no other way to protect the public from a murderer. That is not the case in the United States where a prisoner who has been sentenced to life without possibility of parole has no chance of freedom and can no longer do harm to the public at large. While locked up, Lockett had no opportunity to commit further crimes. Studies have also shown that the death penalty is no deterrent to criminals.

There is no rational reason for the death penalty except bloody vengeance. The death penalty casts a blight on our society. I oppose it so vehemently not so much for the criminals themselves but because of the damage these acts of violence by the state in our names risks doing to the rest of us. I remind any readers who are Christians of Romans 12:19: "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."

It is long past time for this country to join the rest of the civilized world and end the death penalty.


Article Comments

May-08-14 7:05 PM

I support the death penalty, because if it were my loved one that had been murdered and the accused was proven to be guilty....your darn right I would want them to pay with their life. Do I think they should be able to serve out a life sentence with 3 square meals a day, exercise time with many prisons, tv,internet,work release programs,free college education on the tax payers dime and a chance to get out early on good behavior? No I think not. I know, I know, not all prisons offer these things, but why should my loved one pay with their life and the guilty get to be alive and well and get a chance to find retribution. Let the guilty be punished to the highest extent of the law. Also don't compare prolifers with people who support the death penalty....2 different things. One, an innocent life that did not chose to be created and broke no laws or committed any sins with two, a criminal who has free will and committed a sin and broke the law.

May-03-14 9:08 PM

Was it ethical of him killing his victim no. They weren't given a choice to live or die. Let them suffer.


May-01-14 4:15 PM

PJ.. being pro- to stuff is better than being con- to stuff. We have con-gress to keep the pro-gress in check.

I don't agree with Abortion but I do agree with individual choice and voting.


May-01-14 3:59 PM

PJ.. I guess we just know what is best, sorry I hope you don't take it to hard.


May-01-14 3:29 PM

@ EarlyBird

"It's weird how anti-gun people are the same ones who are anti-death penalty"


Why is that weird?

I think it's weird that the sanctimonious pro-lifers are all pro-gun and pro-death penalty.


May-01-14 12:34 PM

"Most people might hesitate at the thought of the consequences for committing a murder"

Your own words Andrea.


May-01-14 10:42 AM

States without the death penalty, like North Dakota, have a lower crime rate than states that do have the death penalty. There are likely other reasons for those crime statistics too, but it is certainly suggestive.

Criminals on average tend to have poor impulse control and are dealing with other underlying issues, like drug addiction or mental illness or psychopathy, etc. Most people might hesitate at the thought of the consequences for committing a murder, but your average criminal with impulse control issues probably will not be deterred. Certainly it won't have any impact on a crime of passion murder. You really think anyone will stop and say, "I'm really drunk right now but I shouldn't kill my wife whom I've been fighting with for five hours straight because I'll get caught and get the death penalty." At the same time, you can lock up that fellow for life and he can't hurt anyone else. The death penalty isn't necessary from a practical standpoint.


May-01-14 9:56 AM

In your case as with most liberals you are so busy studying the solution you have forgotten the problem.


May-01-14 9:55 AM

if they are guilty cook them


May-01-14 9:55 AM

It's weird how anti-gun people are the same ones who are anti-death penalty.

Our system is to have 12 peers decide guilt or innocence and then a judge decides what the punishment will be. Maybe in homicide cases the 12 peers should also decide the punishment that goes with the crime committed. In our system the peers are not involved in the actual life or death part of sentencing and maybe we should be. Sentencing is usually based on facts and previous similar cases for outlines to follow.


May-01-14 9:45 AM

it's one of many studies that say the same thing.


May-01-14 9:30 AM

You know you are gathering information from a known anti-gun ownership group don't you?

I googled "Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology" and came up with: Gary Kleck (born March 2, 1951) is a criminologist and is the David J. Bordua Professor of Criminology at Florida State University.

Kleck has done numerous studies of the effects of guns on death and injury in crimes, on suicides, and gun accidents, the impact of gun control laws on rates of violence, the frequency and effectiveness of defensive gun use by crime victims, patterns of gun ownership, why people support gun control, and "the myth of big-time gun trafficking."

In addition to his work on guns and violence, Kleck has done research concluding that increasing levels of punishment will not increase the deterrent effects of punishment, and that capital punishment does not have any measurable effect on homicide rates.


May-01-14 9:12 AM

Eighty eight percent of criminologists surveyed said the death penalty is no deterrent, according to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology.

Individual criminals are also deterred by a life sentence. Killing them is not necessary for the public safety.


May-01-14 8:48 AM

Finally, the death penalty certainly "deters" the murderer who is executed. Strictly speaking, this is a form of incapacitation, similar to the way a robber put in prison is prevented from robbing on the streets. Vicious murderers must be killed to prevent them from murdering again, either in prison, or in society if they should get out. Both as a deterrent and as a form of permanent incapacitation, the death penalty helps to prevent future crime.


May-01-14 8:47 AM

Ernest van den Haag, a Professor of Jurisprudence at Fordham University who has studied the question of deterrence closely, wrote: "Even though statistical demonstrations are not conclusive, and perhaps cannot be, capital punishment is likely to deter more than other punishments because people fear death more than anything else. They fear most death deliberately inflicted by law and scheduled by the courts. Whatever people fear most is likely to deter most. Hence, the threat of the death penalty may deter some murderers who otherwise might not have been deterred. And surely the death penalty is the only penalty that could deter prisoners already serving a life sentence and tempted to kill a guard, or offenders about to be arrested and facing a life sentence. Perhaps they will not be deterred. But they would certainly not be deterred by anything else. We owe all the protection we can give to law enforcers exposed to special risks."


May-01-14 8:44 AM

Society has always used punishment to discourage would-be criminals from unlawful action. Since society has the highest interest in preventing murder, it should use the strongest punishment available to deter murder, and that is the death penalty. If murderers are sentenced to death and executed, potential murderers will think twice before killing for fear of losing their own life. For years, criminologists analyzed murder rates to see if they fluctuated with the likelihood of convicted murderers being executed, but the results were inconclusive. Then in 1973 Isaac Ehrlich employed a new kind of analysis which produced results showing that for every inmate who was executed, 7 lives were spared because others were deterred from committing murder. Similar results have been produced by disciples of Ehrlich in follow-up studies.


May-01-14 8:35 AM

Except every study they have done shows the death penalty is NOT a deterrent. Law enforcement officers themselves don't believe it's a deterrent.


May-01-14 8:24 AM

Yeah I think people should at least get to be born and break a few laws before being sentenced to death.

It must not be the Drs who do abortions in your world.

Hahaha.. "Execution is not done for public safety."

I think we try to use it as a deterrent so less people commit murder so yes it is for public safety. Wow!!


May-01-14 8:24 AM

As to whether I'm liberal, it depends on the issue and the politics of the person looking at the blog. I'm a political moderate. To you, that may look liberal. To others I know, I look like a conservative.


May-01-14 8:20 AM

You did give me a good laugh when you mentioned the ethics of our government and legal!!!

But then I suppose it is unethical to actually help people these days in this dog eat dog world our government/politicians have created through their great ethics.


May-01-14 8:18 AM

You're the one who introduced the organ donation idea. What you proposed Is illegal under and it's unethical as well, given that doctors take an oath to first, do no harm. . It could be done with the consent of a donor only and even then it would be difficult to find a doctor who would do it.

You oppose abortion and approve the death penalty. I find both abhorrent practices but think they are permissible in cases where it is self defense. In The U.S., life without parole is sufficient to protect the public from a murderer. Execution is not done for public safety.


May-01-14 8:10 AM

Are you saying you think the prisons will start to sell organs?

One thing for sure, if a law is made to make a Life Penalty and it is a law there will be no problem finding Dr's to do the job. I can't imagine being a Dr who stops beating hearts in unborn children, but they do it because it is legal and they make money at it.


May-01-14 8:00 AM

How do you keep missing the fact these people we talk about are on death row and are going to be killed. I know you are against the death penalty but until you get the rest of us to agree to keeping rabid animals in cages we will continue to terminate them.


May-01-14 7:57 AM

Now you moved this to buying and selling organs and underground markets. you are in a spiral little buddy!!


May-01-14 7:52 AM

Andrea.. they keep brain dead people on machines to support the organs for donation.

Ok lets say these convicts are willing donors and want to donate their organs, is that OK in your ultra liberal utopia.


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