Capital Punishment: Dying Out but Still Killing #deathpenalty


death1

Posted: 28/06/2013 , huffingtonpost
Maryland Death Penalty

It’s a loose comparison, but sometimes I think that people who get executed these days are like those killed right at the end of a war. Another day, another month … and they might survived.

I say this because when you look at the figures for capital punishment around the world, you can see there’s a strong trend toward abolition. It’s happening year by year. Fifty years ago only nine countries in the world had abolished the death penalty; by 1977 it was 16; now 140 countries have abolished judicial killing in law or stopped it in practice.

Even in “pro-death penalty” countries, the number of sentences and executions is generally falling or the scope for imposing executions being reduced. For example, in China the number of crimes which might lead to a lethal injection or death by firing squad has beenreduced from a reported 68 to 55 (still a staggeringly high number). Meanwhile, in the USA – another major user of capital punishment – individual states are peeling away from the majority on the issue, with six states scrapping the death penalty in the past six years – New Jersey and New York state (2007), New Mexico (2009), Illinois (2010), Connecticut (2012) and Maryland just last month.

Anyway, though in the last year or so there have been what Amnesty says is an “alarming” spike in executions in Iraq and a resumptions after considerable gaps in the use of the death penalty in Japan, Gambia, Pakistan and India, the underlying global trend is still clear and apparently fixed: state-sanctioned judicial killing is slowly dying out.

So to me there’s a particular tragedy to the late nature of executions in this context. Last night’s execution of Kimberly McCarthy in Texas was regrettable for many reasons (especially the apparent role of racial prejudice in her trial), but in five – ten, 20? – years’ time there’s a distinct possibility that we won’t have people in Texas being strapped down to a lethal injection gurney and killed by technicians in a disgraceful pseudo-medical “procedure”.

I know of course that of all US states Texas is a “hard case”, one that may not go the way of national and international abolition in the immediate future. It’s just reached the miserable milestone of 500 executions in 31 years, nearly five times higher than any other US state. The Lone Star State indeed. See Amnesty USA’s Brian Evans on Texas’ fatal addiction to the death penalty. However, with support for capital punishment in the USA falling, and controversy over lethal injection drugs and unfair trials growing, I think abolition even in Texas will come ….

But still, the machinery of death clanks on. Just this week, in addition to McCarthy’s execution we’ve had four men hanged in Nigeria (and another facing death by firing squad imminently) and alarming reports that 117 people in Vietnam may face execution soon because of a recent law change (we’re talking – in some cases – about death by lethal injection, using specially-produced drugs to execute prisoners for non-violent drugs offences). There’s an urgent text campaign on Vietnam being run by Amnesty – see here.

So no, if you take an abolitionist view on the death penalty, there’s no cause for complacency. According to Wikipedia, the last person to die (from the British Empire side at least) during World War One was a 25-year-old Canadian man called George Lawrence Price. He was shot by a German sniper in the Belgian town of Ville-sur-Haine at 10.58 on the morning of 11 November 1918. The Armistice came into force at 11am. A needless death then, just like everyone killed by the state in the cold-blooded and thoroughly repugnant business of administering capital punishment.

 ,Press Officer at Amnesty International UK

 

America’s Death Penalty Is Barbaric


 

By Mary Hamer

04 February, 2013
Countercurrents.org

*PURPOSE: The purpose of this paper is to discuss the Barbaric nature of America’s Death Penalty. I will give examples of several Death Row prisoner’s Executions to illustrate the Savage & Sadistic nature of Capital Punishment.

* MISSION STATEMENT: This essay is an attempt to get close to the Truth about the United States ‘ Death Penalty. I will give examples of American Executions including a case of a botched Florida Lethal injection & a botched Florida Electrocution. This paper is Not about Condemning President Obama’s, Congress’s & American citizens’ policy on Capital Punishment, but rather this essay Is about exposing the Truth about the Revengeful, expensive & irrational Death Penalty.

*KEY SECTIONS: The Key Sections of this paper are: I. Lethal Injection. II. Electrocution. III. Asphyxiation. IV. Hanging. V. Firing Squad.

I. FLORIDA ‘S BOTCHED LETHAL INJECTION of ANGEL DIAZ. 2006.

Execution : “Lethal injection executions generally end within 15 minutes, with the inmate unconscious after the first 3-5 minutes; Diaz’s took 34 (min.), and he was conscious for at least the first 25. A spokesperson for the Florida Department of Corrections initially claimed that Diaz felt no pain during the execution, but a coroner’s investigation (contradicted) that claim.” What Went Wrong: “Lethal injection ordinarily begins with the intravenous injection of pentothol, which purportedly brings about a coma and makes the effects of later drugs painless. The trouble is that the needle went through Diaz’ vein and into soft tissue deep in his arm, making the injection itself excruciating and possibly preventing the pentothol from taking effect. Tortured to Death: “Eyewitness reports indicate that Diaz was still moving and attempting to speak (or, perhaps, scream) more than twenty minutes into the execution, suggesting that he was still conscious and in pain. … His death was almost certainly slow and excruciatingly painful–and with his body frozen by the pavulon, he would have had no way of expressing that pain.” (1)

II. FLORIDA ‘S BOTCHED ELECTROCUTION of ALLEN LEE DAVIS. 1999. “Before he was pronounced dead … the Blood from his mouth had poured onto the collar of his white shirt, and the blood on his chest had spread to about the size of a dinner plate, even oozing through the buckle holes on the leather chest strap holding him to the chair.” A. His execution was the first in Florida’s new electric chair, built especially so it could accommodate a man Davis’s size (approximately 350 pounds). Later, when another Florida death row inmate challenged the constitutionality of the electric chair, Florida Supreme Court Justice Leander Shaw commented that “the color photos of Davis depict a man who — for all appearances — was brutally tortured to death by the citizens of Florida.” B. Justice Shaw also described the botched executions of Jesse Tafero and Pedro Medina (q.v.), calling the three executions “Barbaric spectacles” and “acts more befitting a Violent murderer than a Civilized state.” C. Justice Shaw included pictures of Davis’s dead body in his opinion. D. The execution was witnessed by a Florida State Senator, Ginny Brown-Waite, who at first was “shocked” to see the blood, until she realized that the blood was forming the shape of a cross and that it was a message from God saying he supported the execution.E. (2) To Florida State Senator Brown-Waite: Why didn’t the blood-shaped cross on Mr. Davis’ shirt signify God’s Condemnation of Florida’s Death Penalty?

* ALABAMA ‘S ELECTROCUTION of JOHN EVANS: 1983.

“ In 1983, the electrocution of John Evans in Alabama was described by an eyewitness as follows:” “At 8:30 p.m. the first jolt of 1900 volts of electricity passed through Mr. Evans’ body. It lasted thirty seconds. Sparks and flames erupted … from the electrode tied to Mr. Evans’ left leg. His body slammed against the straps holding him in the electric chair and his fist clenched permanently. The electrode apparently burst from the strap holding it in place. A large puff of grayish smoke and sparks poured out from under the hood that covered Mr. Evans’ face. An overpowering stench of burnt flesh and clothing began pervading the witness room. Two doctors examined Mr. Evans and declared that he was not dead.” “The electrode on the left leg was re-fastened. …Mr. Evans was administered a second … jolt of electricity. The stench of burning flesh was nauseating. More smoke emanated from his leg and head. Again, the doctors examined Mr. Evans. [They] reported that his heart was still beating, and that he was still alive. At that time, I asked the prison commissioner, who was communicating on an open telephone line to Governor George Wallace, to grant clemency on the grounds that Mr. Evans was being subjected to Cruel and unusual punishment. The request …was denied.” “At 8:40 p.m., a third charge of electricity … was passed through Mr. Evans’ body. At 8:44, the doctors pronounced him dead. The execution of John Evans took fourteen minutes.” Afterwards, officials were embarrassed by what one observer called the “Barbaric ritual.” The prison spokesman remarked, “This was supposed to be a very clean manner of administering death.” (3)

III. GAS CHAMBER, ASPHYXIATION: The introduction of the gas chamber was an attempt to improve on electrocution. In this method of execution the prisoner is strapped into a chair with a container of sulfuric acid underneath. The chamber is sealed, and cyanide is dropped into the acid to form a lethal gas. Execution by suffocation in the lethal gas chamber has not been abolished but lethal injection serves as the primary method in states which still authorize it. In 1996 a panel of judges on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California (where the gas chamber has been used since 1933) ruled that this method is a “cruel and unusual punishment.” (4)

* ARIZONA ASPHYXIATION: Donald Eugene Harding. 1992. Death was not pronounced until 10 & ½ minutes after the cyanide tablets were dropped A. During the execution, Haring thrashed & struggled violently against the restraining straps. A TV journalist who witnessed the execution … said that Harding’s spasms & jerks lasted 6 min. & 37 sec.. “Obviously, this man was suffering. This was a violent death … an ugly event.” B. Another witness, (a) newspaper reporter … said “Harding’s death was extremely violent. He was in great pain. I heard him gasp & moan. I saw his body turn from red to purple.” C. One reporter who witnessed the execution suffered from insomnia & assorted illnesses for several weeks, two others were ‘Walking vegetables’ for several days.” D. (5)

*MISSISSIPPI ASPHYXIATION. Jimmy Lee Gray. 1983. “Officials had to clear the room eight minutes after the gas was released when Gray’s desperate gasps for air repulsed witnesses. His attorney, Dennis Balske of Montgomery, Alabama, criticized state officials for clearing the room when the inmate was still alive. Said noted death penalty defense attorney David Bruck, ‘Jimmy Lee Gray died banging his head against a steel pole in the gas chamber while the reporters counted his moans (eleven, according to the Associated Press).’ A. Later it was revealed that the executioner, Barry Bruce, was drunk.” B. (6)

IV. HANGING: “ The (historical) mode of execution, hanging , is an option still available in Delaware , New Hampshire and Washington . Death on the gallows is easily bungled: If the drop is too short, there will be a slow and agonizing death by strangulation. If the drop is too long, the head will be torn off.” (7)

V. FIRING SQUAD: “ Two states, Idaho and Utah, still authorize the firing squad . The prisoner is strapped into a chair and hooded. A target is pinned to the chest. Five marksmen, one with blanks, take aim and fire.” (8)

*CONCLUSION: America ‘s Death Penalty is Barbaric. President Obama, Congress & the American citizens are Responsible for these Savage Executions of human beings. Americans Sadistically support & witness these Cruel acts of Lethal injections, Electrocutions, Asphyxiations, etc.. Homo Sapiens are a Violent & Evil species. I, Mary Hamer withdraw my name from the Human race; I do not condone such brutal acts of Murder conducted in the name of the US Criminal justice system & American Freedom & Democracy.

Thank you. Respectfully, Mary Hamer MD. Florida , a Death Penalty state.

REFERENCES:

1. The Execution of Angel Nieves Diaz . By Tom Head. civilliberty.about.com › … › Crimes & Punishments › Capital Punishment .

2. Some Examples of Post-Furman Botched Executions | Death … www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/some-examples-post-furman- botched – exe … Referencing: A. Davis Execution Gruesome , GAINESVILLE SUN, July 8, 1999 , at 1A. B. Provenzano v. State, 744 So.2d 413, 440 (Fla. 1999). C. Id. D. Id., at 442-44. E. Mary Jo Melone, A Switch is Thrown, and God Speaks , ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, July 13, 1999, p. 1B.

3. The Case Against the Death Penalty – American Civil Liberties Union www.aclu.org › Capital Punishment .

4. The Case Against the Death Penalty – American Civil Liberties Union www.aclu.org › Capital Punishment .

5. Some Examples of Post-Furman Botched Executions | Death … www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/some-examples-post-furman- botched – exe … A.Gruesome Death in Gas Chamber Pushes Arizona Toward Injections , N.Y. TIMES, Apr. 25, 1992, at 9. B. Charles L. Howe, Arizona Killer Dies in Gas Chamber , S.F. CHRON., Apr. 7, 1992, at A2. C. Id. D. Abraham Kwok, Injection: The No-Fuss Executioner , ARIZONA REPUBLIC, Feb. 28, 1993.

6. Some Examples of Post-Furman Botched Executions | Death … www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/some-examples-post-furman- botched – exe…Referencing : A. David Bruck, Decisions of Death , THE NEW REPUBLIC, Dec. 12, 1984 , at 24-25. B . Ivan Solotaroff, The Last Face You’ll Ever See , 124 ESQUIRE 90, 95 (Aug. 1995).

7. The Case Against the Death Penalty – American Civil Liberties Union www.aclu.org › Capital Punishment .

8. [ The Case Against the Death Penalty – American Civil Liberties Union www.aclu.org › Capital Punishment .]

 

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