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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Oklahoma Execution: Time to do Away with Lethal Injection

CNN is all atwitter over the "botched" execution in Oklahoma of Clayton Lockett.

It seems, and I stress seems, that there was some mistake made in administering the lethal injection cocktail, producing a massive heart attack and death some 45 minutes after that injection. Death is supposed to be much quicker and, I gather, that the inmate is also supposed to be unconscious when that death does come. Lockett apparently was awake and perhaps suffering for much longer than is prescribed.

I have a conflicted view on the death penalty.

On the one hand, as a conservative/libertarian, I have serious reservations about giving government authorities even more power to kill us; they already have SWAT teams, over-armed law enforcement officials of all types, soldiers, drones, etc., with which to do that. In addition, I have ever less respect for prosecutors who many times appear to be just bureaucratic careerists who, along with the cops, are not above loading up an accused with all sorts of charges in the hopes of getting a conviction by way of a plea deal.

Having said that, I am aware that certain people do things for which death seems the only appropriate punishment, the only statement that society can truly make about that individual and his acts. Clayton Lockett would appear to be one of those certain people.

As noted, I am conflicted about the death penalty.

I, however, am not conflicted about lethal injection. I find it disgusting, and, in fact, totally repellent. It is a classic euphemism of our politically correct times. It was an effort to make capital punishment appear, well, less capital. Hanging, firing squad, guillotine, even the electric chair and the gas chamber were seen as too, well, too "deadly," there was no disguising the purpose. Death was certain and, above all else, graphic.

Those forms of capital punishment were all too much for our modern sensitivities, so we came up with "lethal injection." This is a bizarre, quasi-medical procedure with almost Mengele-like vibes. It was an effort to make capital punishment less offensive, less disturbing, in sum, more palatable. I hate it, and think it should go away.

IF, and I emphasize IF, we are going to have a death penalty, it should be straightforward and unambiguous: noise, blood, violence. If we can't do that, then we have another argument for doing away with capital punishment.

48 comments:

  1. Dr Guillotine had the right idea: execution should be humane, swift and certain.

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  2. I can't help but think that veterinarians seem to manage to put down thousands of animals a day in this country without a problem, and it is not considered inhumane. A manila rope worked well for Saddam.

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    Replies
    1. MD's believe they are prohibited by the Hippocratic Oath from killing people. Therefore executions are not performed by doctors. It is going on, nonetheless, in hospices under the guise of palliative care. It's just a coincidence (wink, wink) that the dose that kills the pain also suppresses breathing. It should be called the hypocrite oath.

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    2. I guess I should be a bit more clear. The story line in the news on the execution is that they botched it because they were using a new US made drug cocktail, as the old one made in the EU is no longer available. I am saying that the cocktail we use on pets to put them down "humanely" seems to work efficiently. But I am in 1000% agreement with Swamp Woman.

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    3. Animals don't destroy their veins with drugs.

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  3. I wonder what the Arabs do? The ones in Egypt have just sentenced SIX HUNDRED AND EIGHTY THREE of their fellow Arabs to death. Your botched ONE is all over our media - but no one says a thing about the 683 Arabs. Perhaps it is, as I have already said, that we all know that is what Arabs do!

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  4. I'm not going to waste any time worrying about the manner of death of that particular POS. I don't really care if they drowned him in a toilet, just so long as he's dead.

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  5. Agreed... if the point is 'humane', then 'bolt through the head' works for cattle.
    I'd say capital inmates should pick their form of certain and timely death from a range of accepted standards.
    The attempt is to treat humanity with dignity balanced against these near-animal savage acts.
    But firing squad does sound 'best' to me, and sounds least problematic for the executioners.

    - reader #1482

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  6. One has to wonder just why the guillotine is no longer in use. It is certain, quick and has few moving parts to fail. The gas chamber is subject to problems, as is the electric chair and even the gallows. And this "lethal injection" crap is just that: crap. It is supposed to be a euphemism, to offer plausible deniability. Kim Jung Un has the right idea: put the condemned on an X and drop a mortar shell on them. So much better than throwing people to raging dogs, which was another Kim tactic.

    When Central African Republic "Emperor" Bokassa returned to what he hoped would be a popular uprising, he was met instead by chief of presidential security Col. (retired) Mantion. It was decided Bokassa should be re-tried even though he had been found guilty and sentenced in absentia to death. His second trial confirmed the results of the first and he was imprisoned in a small cell in the presidential compound, where Mantion made sure he never lacked for a full bottle of scotch and rich food, as befits an emperor. He was dead within 18 months without the state ever having carried out the sentence, which would have been nationally divisive.

    But anonymous has the right idea: if we're going to use any kind of injection to end a life, use morphine. Both of my sisters breathed their last painlessly following an extra heavy dose of it, both under the care of physicians who certified they could no longer be kept alive. Quick and certain.

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  7. He suffered? Awww! Really? What a crying shame. Let's Review: "the shocking murder of Stephanie Nieman, 19.

    She was kidnapped, shot twice and buried alive in 1999 a month after she graduated from high school.

    Miss Neiman's friend was dragged into the house and hit in the face with a shotgun.

    Under duress, the friend then called Miss Neiman into the home and she was also hit in the face with the gun.

    Her friend was raped by all three men before they were taken to a rural part of Kay County, Oklahoma

    Lockett told them that he was going to kill them all but shot Miss Neiman twice when she refused to give her keys and pickup's alarm code.r | DailyMirror on Facebook"

    No execution botched enough and no hell hot enough for this animal.

    Kill him slow and mean and dirty.

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    Replies
    1. I don't disagree. Lockett and crew are among those certain people who deserve to die. My concern is over lethal injection. If we are going to execute people, let's do it openly, cleanly, unambiguously.

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    2. Hmmmm. I say let family members of the victim take souvenir momentos from his body with a rusty razor blade from nonlethal areas, THEN bury him alive up to his neck in fireants. Have a few dead things laying around to attract buzzards which can land and eat his eyeballs.

      /My people ain't been civilized all that long.

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    3. Public stoning before the city gates, anyone?

      Actually, I'm for something quick and to the point. Firing squad, perhaps, with one firearm loaded with a blank.

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    4. Hanging works just fine. Plus, you can get everything you need at Home Depot.

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    5. I have difficulty understanding how someone can mess up a lethal injection procedure. Don't people regularly OD on heroin? What drug cocktail does the euthanasia crowd employ?

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    6. It's usually the IV. Most of these murderers are druggies with no veins.

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  8. I have a morbid fear of needles, the stainless sterility of them nauseates me. A long stay in hospital with daily morning blood samples taken (years ago) still fears me for any repeat. If I had to be executed, several rounds of 7.62mm through the chest would be inferently preferable.

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  9. I support capital punishment purely for disposal. The convicted has done something that is beyond the pale and deserves to be disposed of post-haste. Surely we can strap 'em down tightly enough to do the cattle bolt to the head thing.

    15 minutes works with a backhoe (the operator gets paid per hour or part thereof), two bags of lime on the bottom of the pit, convicts lifeless body on top of that, two bags of lime atop the body, operator turns the tractor around and uses the front loader to fill the hole, we're done.

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    Replies
    1. Hmmm. Can see your point. Maybe the prison officials draw straws to see who had to administer the cattle bolt to the head (or fire a large-caliber pistol) in the prison yard, and wash away the gore and gunk with a hose.

      As for our hosts scruples, I also have to admit that in a system in which integrity is a rare commodity, there is a little too much danger in giving the state such power. But, isn't it interesting that in the case of Joker Tsarnaev, this gang of anti-capital punishment officials (who apparently also like long incarcerations for "hate speech") is shooting for the death penalty? They even cheer that the case is tried as a Federal case rather than as an offense under the laws of anti-capital punishment Massachusetts. This is a bigger issue, because it seems that the harshness of the penalty is linked to whether the offender is a political client or not.

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  10. A few cases of murder like this one deserve an extra measure--drawn and quartered was one such method. I read accounts from history that this method and hanging tended to focus the mind.

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    Replies
    1. Feed them through one of those tree shredders, naked and feet first, set on slow. No anesthetics.

      Delete
  11. I support the death penalty because the Hillside Strangler serial killer admitted to his crimes - of which there was little evidence at the time - for fear of being executed.

    I believe a lot more people are alive today because a few particularly nasty killers have been terminated. For the deterrent value alone.

    Time to move to an automated "firing squad". Instantaneous, much more reliable.

    But if the state killing it's citizens bothers you, I would suggest a consideration of a correlation between the tax rates and suicide. The government kills, and does so to the "innocent" a lot more than the guilty.

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    Replies
    1. Well, I don't really buy the deterrence argument. I'm more of the mind that the murderer has struck at the image of God (see Genesis 9). I guess it's where a hard-core pro-human life position recognizes where people forfeit the right to life.

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  12. Firing squad is the best option. Sure it is a bit messy, but there is no problem obtaining bullets or rifles. One Blank round, or no blanks, quibbles for the various states. Perhaps allow the condemned to select Ala Utah, firing squad, or hanging. I am not sure about the automated firing squad. There is always a chance for botching that. I say, if we as a society are going to enact such extremes in punishments of criminals then we better be strong enough to belly up 8 willing bodies to aim, and pull the trigger. The Victim family should be given the option to be on the squad. Provided they can pass a basic marksmanship test. Well, maybe not that, cause they would shoot them in the face and say, whoopsie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're not apparently Salvorhardin, from hillbilly land.

      "The Victim family should be given the option to be on the squad. Provided they can pass a basic marksmanship test. Well, maybe not that, cause they would shoot them in the face and say, whoopsie."

      The marksmanship test would be easily passed but when hillbillies miss, they generally miss low.
      ___________________

      But overall I think I'm gonna have to go with Diplomad on this one - it the method is to be lethal injection - best I think, to not do it.

      Which is not to say I'm strictly against capital punishment - but it should be very apparently punitive. And very public. In a "frontier" Fort Smith sort of way.

      Arkie

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  13. I completely love this blog, along with the other 15 people who read it. /sarc

    Back to a sober response to your post. Americans, through their prosperity, have managed to hide themselves from the ugliness of death. Fear of dying is a common response, without doubt, for the average person. We will do almost anything to willingly embrace situations where Mr. D. might not be present.

    My thoughts on this situation is that not enough criminals are being presented with their last meal, before their immediate death. Nobody wants to actually kill these social deviants, usually because of their own guilty conscience - in my opinion.

    The simplest way to overcome this problem of to many living criminals is for the United States Government to purchase a large container ship, making the containers holding cells for those about to receive the death penalty. When all the containers fill up with criminals, just sail out to sea. From the ship's bridge have a long FAST water slide into the water, but at the end of the enclosed water slide place a big wood chipper.

    Let the criminal enjoy a quick slide into the leaf chipper - and be sure that they're ramped up on caffeine when they meet the spinning blades of life. Be sure to televise it all, but chase any small craft away that comes within 5 miles. Feed the fishes and seagulls - a useful purpose for most of the criminal class.

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  14. Why not let the damned choose their means of exit? (courtesy of Monty Python.. link NSFW)

    http://vimeo.com/10798467

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  15. In Australia we don't have the death penalty, and there are many in our prisons who truly deserve it. The death penalty should never be taken off the table.

    As for the method? It should be foolproof and quick:

    Lethal injection has hints of euthansia to it and can be botched.

    Electric chair can at times not work properly, and its use had more to do with competition between Edison and Tesla and namely Edison wanting to show that AC voltages were particularly dangerous than its practicality.

    Hanging is technically very difficult. Get the assessment of the individuals core strength wrong and you can rip their head off, or not break their neck. A hangman needs to know the individuals weight and what sort of labor the individual did in their life, ie. you need more drop to kill a labourer than a desk clerk.

    That pretty much leaves the firing squad, quick and painless, visually the result also matches most crimes and it takes a lot for eight people to similtaneously screw up.

    rickw-oz

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    1. Agree with all you say. I still have a problem with our prosecution system. I am concerned about how prosecutors go about their job with a burning concern for conviction percentages rather than justice. I don't know if you have the same problem in Australia, but here you can indict and convict almost anybody.

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  16. If you really want to put someone to death fairly painlessly, and having them sit on a chair made of C4 and setting it off is not an option, if only because of the mess, I highly recommend pole hanging. Death takes a while, but unconsciousness is fairly instant. You can find a youtube film of the hanging of Hermann Frank, on 22 May 46, in Prague. Doesn't even seem to need any real skill on the part of the hangman.

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  17. Replies
    1. YES!

      re: Why all this fussing? Given what we are trying to accomplish here this should be, if you will forgive me, a no-brainer.

      Here’s the only answer I can think of: we’re squeamish. All the methods I’ve suggested are messy, and create a lot of splatter. I think that we prefer silly, complicated arrangements — gas chambers, electrocution, and lethal injection — because they make killing the condemned more painless for us."

      We aren't concerned about pampering the convicted criminal, or perhaps even being 'just'. Rather, the concern is about the sensibilities of those who live beyond the death of the criminal. A good axeman with a sharp axe could be just as humane and quick as the lethal injections.

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    2. Malcolm, Sorry I missed your post from last January. Seems like we're thinking along similar lines.

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  18. We seem to be a blood thirsty lot. Since the space industry is moving to the private sector, why not use the mass transit model and load up a capsule with the very worst and send them to deep space...one way? Pool the cost among the states as it is quite expensive to maintain a death row inmate for so many years. The not so very worst criminals can spend life in prison.

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    Replies
    1. "Since the space industry is moving to the private sector, why not use the mass transit model and load up a capsule with the very worst and send them to deep space...one way?"

      Don't know whether you saw it on the scrolling banner yesterday Whitewall or if, you already know "our State" depends on the Russians for rocket engines (Space-X as yet only cleared 'unmanned') but imagine if you will given how long our EPA takes to give its approval to emplace a culvert under a flooded rural road in say, Mississippi - how long (not to mention, extremely expensive) a process an environmental impact study for shooting the condemned into outer space might actually take.
      __________

      The scrolling banner - at least on FOX - made mention of some Russian spokesman suggesting if we wanted to in the future get our astronauts up to the ISS - if we insist on this ridiculous sanctioning regime Thank you very much John Kerry - we "use trampolines."

      Now Whitewall - imagine how long a consecutive environmental impact study followed by getting the proper paperwork through the Consumer Protection Agency (& then probably a DARPA funded feasibility followed by a DoD Acquisitions process) before we could possibly hope to acquire an 8th Amendment compliant "Orbital Velocity Achieving Trampoline System."

      As I said above - go with a frontier-style Fort Smith thingy - Judge Parker's gallows remain in working order with room for eight state's executions simultaneously.

      http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/media-detail.aspx?mediaID=7370

      Arkie

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    2. Arkie, that would be a lot of bother. Maybe Judge Parker's platform is the way. Mind you if there be a female to swing, her dress hem is to be tied tight.

      Delete
  19. Whitewall, if you recall, they took a similar approach with Superman's parents and well, that didn't turn out so well.

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  20. There are three issues with capital punishment. First is the belief it may deter future murderers/etc. Fear of death may deter some but not others, so the deterrence factor seems iffy at best. Second is basically sort of revenge. Personally, I'm willing to let the Almighty take the lead there. I understand the wish for revenge for family members of victims, but it does seem a little uncivilized. The third issue is the sticking point, for me. I do not trust the criminal justice system to protect me from being the next victim of a released killer. In a broader sense, the recidivism rates are too high for murderers to be re-inflicted upon society.

    Now, killing murderers would surely prevent them from murdering again. Some argue that life in prison would as well. However, there are too many people using every nasty legal trick to spring murderers, and there is parole.

    I would be happy to abolish the death penalty if replaced with something like "chopping ice in Alaska with no parole, ever, and limited retrials." But sure as the rising of the sun, there'd be as much howling about that from the usual crowd as there is about the death penalty. It's as if the goal of those folks is to truly inflict pain on society, using criminals as a tool.

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    1. "It's as if the goal of those folks is to truly inflict pain on society, using criminals as a tool". You have described the present day m/o of the deconstructionist Left.

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    2. @Anon,

      "There are three issues with capital punishment. First is the belief it may deter future murderers/etc. Fear of death may deter some but not others, so the deterrence factor seems iffy at best."

      Given.

      "Second is basically sort of revenge. Personally, I'm willing to let the Almighty take the lead there. I understand the wish for revenge for family members of victims, but it does seem a little uncivilized."

      It does smack of Shar'ia in these days I'd give. But ...

      "The third issue is the sticking point, for me. I do not trust the criminal justice system ... "

      Agreed but I'd humbly suggest a Constitutional Amendment (recognizing the problem of getting it past a Congress composed of so many former Prosecuting Attorneys) ... bar any attorney who has ever successfully - meaning, achieved "the end" from seeking higher office. Of course the lawyers in Congress would scream bloody murder. But then, award the individual an additional stipend if they manage a shot on CNN's Nancy Grace or FOX' Judge Jeanine.

      "I would be happy to abolish the death penalty if replaced with something like ... But sure as the rising of the sun, there'd be as much howling about that from the usual crowd ... ."

      Easy enough - establish for released/paroled murderers halfway houses in these neighborhoods, Edison Park, Forest Glen and Montclare on the Northwest Side and Mount Greenwood on the Southwest Side. The Clearing, East Side, Loop, North Center, North Park, Norwood Park, O’Hare and West Elsdon. The Armour Square, Dunning, Fuller Park, Hegewisch, Lincoln Park, Archer Heights, Burnside, Garfield Ridge, Hyde Park, Jefferson Park, Lincoln Square, Oakland and West Lawn.

      For the "halfway-housed" - those individuals must be employed as security persons -armed- and detailed to every individual formerly of Federal-Level elected office and the "graduated from halfway house" -unarmed- for those formerly Federal-Level electeds below voting age children.

      The "Only Manslaughter Convicteds" assigned to State & Local level elected officials and families.

      *Exception[s] If illegal immigrant status the convicted murderer or manslaughterer rather than being assigned duties where walkie-talkie English speaking skills might be misconstrued as being at or above the intellectual [IQ] capacity of the formerly elected to whom the released and/or paroled is then currently assigned (and provided Social Security Withholding as mandated is being ignored) those individuals may continue as a "Yayer" or a "Nayer" in the US Congress depending on solely, it can be decisively proven the Illegal Immigrant had more of a clue of what the Yay or Nay meant than whoever he/she was providing landscaper/babysitting tasks on the behalf of.
      ________________________

      Easy enough I reckon. You Whitewall got anything to add?

      Arkie

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    3. I lived a while in Southern Illinois, where foolish politicians boasted about bringing prisons with all their attendant ills into our backyards. Your proposal to send our worst criminals to Alaska is unfair to the honest people of that State.

      I'm for making first offenders for things like petty larceny do work to the value of stolen goods times five for the victims. It might make a lot of kids who think "crime is cool" think twice while teaching them a useful skill or two. But as for the hardened, we really need the death penalty.

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    4. Ahoy Kepha?

      I wasn't intending to mean anything "Alaska" rather Chicago and it's environs.

      Admittedly I haven't lived up in that area [Waukegan] since my Dad was stationed at Great Lakes but - on which did I mess up?

      "Your proposal to send our worst criminals to Alaska is unfair ..."

      I didn't mean to propose that Kepha (if I did in fact) what I earnestly tied to convey was Fort Smith, Judge Parker & Associated stuff - heck, Rooster Cogburn if that's what it takes to get my meaning through. (Mr. Portis is a friend of one of my very close associates - the Coen brothers I don't know personally ... I do however know the Great-Great Aunt By Marriage of the Kid from Dardenelle however. & heck anyways, this is Arkansas).

      Suppers calling and I lost my train of thought anyways Kepha.

      Arkie

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    5. Arkie, I believe you covered the waterfront.

      Kepha, if they are to be shipped to Alaska, let Mrs. Palin know about it.

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    6. I "think" Whitewall I covered more than the waterfront if you don't object too strenuously, see here:

      http://homicides.redeyechicago.com/

      I'm "very conscientious" where gun-free Illinois is concerned. Albeit "concerned Illinois" - "gun-free [legal ownership} Illinois" - "conscientious" & "Illinois" used in a single sentence are, I freely admit far more oxymorons than a person with an IQ above say, 110 or so would typically encounter in normal conversation.

      Lucky for me - averaging Illinois' IQ + normal conversation would equal (and only approximately mind) nearabouts Zip if we figured Rahm as the middling intersection of the Bell-Curve. Hell if it weren't for Mississippi and Illinois being allowed to combine the two state's totals then applying Attorney-General Holder's as the mean from which to draw conclusions [*Adjusted for/with Affirmative Action Points duly accorded] Arkansas' kids would rank higher than Louisiana's. Maybe even Sierra Leone.

      Arkie

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  21. Mr. Amselem,

    No. We need the death penalty applied even more often. This fellow certainly deserved it and he was stealing oxygen far longer than true justice would permit. I also have no doubt but that he suffered far less than his victims. I'd pay for the privilege of being on the firing squad that dispatched this evil being to Hell just as I'd pay to put a 30.06 round right through Lemaricus Davidson's head. These sons of bitches deserve a much more painful death than either lethal injection or a firing squad would give them. There's no reason why we as a society should continue being hurt by them once it has been decided they deserve death. No decade on death row eating up resources badly needed elsewhere. Put them down, quickly, chop up the remains and either feed them to pigs or toss them overboard at sea. They don't deserve Christian burial.

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  22. We use the death penalty so few now. I am a pro- life Christian. Maybe it is time to say all human life has value.

    Chris
    Owner CEL Financial Services
    http://www.taxprepfillmore.com/christopher-lee-owner-cel-financial-services

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  23. The death penalty debate is endless and will probably never be satisfactorily resolved.

    I am concerned that quite a few people have had their convictions tossed out based on DNA evidence that could not be tested previously. I think we can all agree that if the convicted murderers in that group had been executed on a timely basis, it would have been wrong. Prosecutors occasionally hide exculpatory evidence from defense attorneys; old cases have been overturned for this reason as well. Some prosecutors with political ambitions will overzealously prosecute, like Michael Nifong, the D.A. in the notorious Duke lacrosse team trial. It was unusual that Nifong was subsequently disbarred for malicious prosecution, withholding of exculpatory evidence, deceit and misrepresentation. He even had to serve one day in jail. This is an anomaly. Most D.A.s are immune from prosecution.

    Guys who have served decades in prison for rape convictions have similarly been freed based on new DNA evidence.

    I'd be willing to forgo executing those likely guilty of heinous crimes to reduce the number of the wrongly-convicted who are executed.

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