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Prall: No sense in the death penalty

BY JACOB PRALL | MAY 01, 2015 5:00 AM

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The death penalty is somehow still implemented in the United States. China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the United States carried out 88 percent of death penalty executions in 2007, according to Northwestern University. These are not countries we want to align ourselves with in terms of human rights.

So, who’s even for the death penalty? A recent Pew poll found that 56 percent of Americans are in favor of capital punishment, the lowest level in four decades.

Besides all the states that have deemed it unethical, the United Nations has voted 117-38 for a global moratorium on the death penalty. You’ll never guess which side the United States voted on.
As U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, “The death penalty has no place in the 21st century. Leaders across the globe must boldly step forward in favor of abolition. Together, let us end this cruel and inhumane practice.”

There have even been reports of China re-evaluating its death penalty policy, according to the New York Times. Germany refuses to assist in a murder case of a U.S. serviceman because the death penalty may be involved. There has to be a change here in the States, in every state. Oklahoma is up to bat.

Oklahoma’s Supreme Court is going to hear another appeal for the abolishment of capital punishment after the horrific incident with Clayton Lockett. Lockett was given a state-sanctioned, untested sedative drug (midazolam) to bring about his death in a quick and painless way. Instead, he was not sedated and writhed in agony, fully conscious, until a he had a major heart attack.

How could the Oklahoma Supreme Court approve the use of such a drug? Justice Sonia Sotomayor noted in the dissent that the state expert testifying on behalf of midazolam’s effects relied on the website drugs.com.

That is an absolutely incompetent job done by the highest judicial officials in the state of Oklahoma. The justices have voted to take up the case again after other botched executions from across the United States have made headlines.

What is actually on the table in this case is actually quite ridiculous when considered. The justices are ruling on whether midazolam violates “cruel and unusual punishment” in the Eighth Amendment. They are also considering whether someone who challenges a lethal-injection protocol has to find a substitute drug that would cause less pain.

How about the state just stops killing people?

The question before them now is whether the use of midazolam violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Because this is the death penalty, where logic often does not apply, the justices will also consider the bizarre question of whether someone challenging a lethal-injection protocol must identify drugs the state could use that would cause less pain.

And it isn’t cheaper to use the death penalty. After a recent study the Kansas Judicial Council concluded, “Defending a death-penalty case costs about four times as much as defending a case where the death penalty is not considered.” Not to mention the appeal process which can go on for years, if not decades.

All of this is paid for on our dollar, and at the end of the day, it might be our dollar taking a human life. Knowing that innocent men have been put to death before is reason enough not to support the death penalty. We are not Salem; that may be our history, but it doesn’t have to be our legacy. Putting people to death in any form has dangerous moral implications on an entity such as the state.


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