death penalty

Another Man Has Been Torturously Murdered on Your Behalf

Clayton LockettThe only good to come from the horrible, torturous execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma yesterday is that its coverage seems to be finally bringing some attention to the vile and spreading use of homebrew lethal injection drugs.

As I earlier reported about Missouri and Ohio, death penalty states are no longer able to buy the pharmaceuticals used in traditional death cocktails thanks to European manufacturers and politicians banning their use in capital punishment. So execution authorities have turned to their own recipes, which when used on inmates result in long stretches of torturous pain before death, which in the case of Clayton Lockett only finally came about by unintended heart attack after supervisors stopped the disastrous injections.

It baffles me that state officials refuse to accept the easiest, cheapest, and most ethical solution to this problem: stop all executions and commute all death sentences to life in prison without parole. Until our elected (and appointed) officials manifest the courage to do what’s right but unpopular, we’ll as a nation be guilty of more and more cruel and unusual, and unnecessary, punishment murders.

More from me on the death penalty:

What Can a Hairless Cat Teach You About Compassion?

On most Wednesdays I don’t expect to find humanity’s essential ethical matters expertly deconstructed by a YouTube puppet show, but this isn’t most Wednesdays.

I’ve posted about The Love Me Cat Show before, because it’s so delightfully goofy. But I’m doing it again today because the latest episode is so movingly important. In it guest Maurice LaMarche 1A great voiceover performer best known for Futurama and Pinky and the Brain. discusses the murder of his father and his subsequent attitude towards the killer.

Maurice’s story perfectly illustrates the necessity of active compassion, not to benefit evil-doers, but to benefit ourselves. It also distills the reasons I so often use this blog to write against the death penalty, mirroring what I less successfully articulated in this post, not having the benefit of a drum-playing robot and a demented sheep.

Spend five minutes watching it, and you might emerge the other side a better human, singing a meow-meow song.

   [ + ]

1. A great voiceover performer best known for Futurama and Pinky and the Brain.

Someone (Possibly I) Told Someone (Possibly Ya) So

toldYaSoFrom the See, I Told You desk:

• A little over a month ago, I wrote about Missouri and other states’ struggle to find new ways to execute people now that they’re having difficulty getting their hands on classic, fan-favorite lethal injection drugs. I proposed that states could save themselves the trouble if they try the groundbreaking idea (in that God carved it into the ground) of not killing people. Ohio must not read my blog, because yesterday they were the first state to try a new toxic chemical mixture, which they injected into murderer Denis McGuire. The head of Ohio’s prisons promised that the midazolam/hydromorphone combo would result in a “humane, dignified execution,” 1Adjectives which, by the way, can’t rightly be applied to any execution. but instead it resulted in exactly what McGuire’s lawyers predicted: an agonizing death while McGuire audibly suffocated for 20 minutes as his family watched. Ohio Assistant Attorney General Thomas Madden said regarding the tortuous method, “You’re not entitled to a pain-free execution.” Here’s to Mr. Madden for leading our nation backwards into a medieval society in which our leaders actively push aside mercy and rationality in favor of painful blood vengeance.

• Speaking of moving backwards into a medieval society, on January 6 I predicted that since it’s now legal to carry concealed handguns in every state, soon nowhere would one be safe from being killed by some angry and/or drunk idiot that’s not Ohio’s assistant attorney general. Sadly, in less than two weeks I’ve been proven right, with the news that a suburban Tampa man was shot and killed for texting during a movie. Chad Oulson and his wife Nicole took a day off to spend time together and go see the new Mark Wahlberg special forces movie Lone Survivor. Chad sent a text to his three-year-old daughter’s daycare, annoying the guy in the row behind him. That guy turned out to be a retired Busch Gardens security guard packing a .380 semi-automatic, with which he shot Mr. Oulson in the chest, the bullet passing through Nicole’s hand as she tried to protect her husband. Florida issues concealed weapons permits to anyone over 21 who has passed “any firearms training or safety course.” Yesterday on the Guardian, Ana Marie Cox drove home the idiocy of those sort of laws, pointing out that “otherwise unpremeditated murders, where people kill out of momentary rage, are the single most common type of gun homicide in America.” Frighteningly, those murders will only become more common.

• Lest you join me in feeling physically ill at the realization that America has moved to dystopian DEFCON 2, here’s some good news. In the run-up to the 2012 election, I loudly whined about my birth-state of Pennsylvania’s restrictive voter ID law, which required all voters to show a not-easily-obtainable government-issued photo ID. I say “required,” because this very morning Pennsylvania Commonwealth Judge Bernard McGinley ruled the law unconstitutional. His Honor called the statute “a substantial threat” to voters, adding “Voting laws are designed to assure a free and fair election; the Voter ID Law does not further this goal.” This makes me very happy, but I’d be much happier if a Pennsylvanian walking into a polling place to legally vote without carrying an ID couldn’t legally be carrying a concealed gun with which he could kill someone and then legally be killed in return.

   [ + ]

1. Adjectives which, by the way, can’t rightly be applied to any execution.

No Sissy Europeans Gonna Stop Missouri From Killing Its Citizens

A lethal injection chamber
AP Photo/The Advocate, Liz Condo

From the state-sanctioned murder homicide desk comes the news of the latest execution in Missouri, that of murderer, anti-semite, white supremacist, and supreme dicknose Joseph Paul Franklin. Aside from the usual tragedy that envelops all humankind with every capital punishment, this one is of particular note because, not only is it the first to be carried out by Missouri’s new method of lethal injection, it also represents the new international debate over America’s death penalty.

Until recently, most lethal injections involved three drugs, the first being the sedative pentobarbital, administered to (theoretically) prevent the executee from feeling the cruel and unusual extreme pain of the next two drugs that do the actual killing. “Until recently” because death penalty states like Missouri have lately had trouble getting their hands on pentobarbital,  thanks to a creature even rarer than the basselope: an ethical pharmaceutical company.

Continue Reading →

End the Death Penalty in California by Voting Yes on Prop. 34

Yes on Prop 34

Over the last year I’ve written about the effort to place an initiative on the California ballot to eliminate the state’s death penalty. On November 6, 1Or now, if you vote by mail. after a long and successful campaign, we finally have the chance to vote for the measure. Here are a few reasons to end capital punishment in California by voting yes on Prop. 34:

Continue Reading →

   [ + ]

1. Or now, if you vote by mail.

The Guy Who Wrote California’s Death Penalty Law Wants It to be Repealed

A gas chamber in CaliforniaIn 1977, the California legislature reinstated the state’s death penalty. A short time later, Ron Briggs helped his father, State Senator John Briggs, write what’s become known as the Briggs Death Penalty Initiative, which upped the number of death-penalty-eligible crimes to 28. California voters passed it, and as a result 13 people have been gassed or dosed on our dime. Now Ron Briggs says his death penalty law “simply doesn’t work.”

Briggs, now a county supervisor for El Dorado County, spoke on KCRW’s Which Way, L.A.? this week to explain why he supports SAFE California’s ballot measure to replace the death penalty with life in prison without parole. He put aside the complex arguments that America’s modern right has trouble wrapping its collective gourd around (arguments like “killing people is bad”) and focused on a fact that any bag-bedecked tea partier can love: capital punishment wastes crock shits of money.

Continue Reading →

America on the Cutting Edge

Map of world executions, from the Los Angeles Times

You’re probably feeling down because the United States now has a higher poverty rate than 31 of 35 measured countries, just edging out economic powerhouses like Chile and Mexico. You’re disappointed that we have a more severe infant mortality rate than 28 out of 31 nations. But it’s time to cheer up! Because, according to Amnesty International, we’re still near the top in one important statistic:

America ranks fourth in the world in the number of government-mandated killings of its own citizens!

Continue Reading →