Wednesday, April 30, 2014
A botched execution - and a simple solution
I'm sure most of my readers have heard by now of the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma yesterday, so I won't go into the details all over again. Suffice it to say that the usual suspects are in an uproar about it.
I'm opposed to the death penalty not because I regard it as wrong, but because there's so much evidence to suggest that innocent people have been executed for crimes they haven't committed. In the absence of a foolproof method to convict and sentence only the genuinely guilty, I'd prefer to take the death penalty off the table altogether. You can exonerate an innocent man in prison. It's too late to exonerate a corpse.
In this particular case I think there was more than enough evidence to convict Mr. Lockett of his crimes and justify the sentence carried out yesterday. I agree that things went very wrong in the process of executing him, and there should be follow-up to ensure that those responsible understand what happened and can make sure it doesn't happen again. However, I don't have much time for those complaining that Mr. Lockett 'suffered unnecessarily' during the process. In the first place, as far as we know, he was unconscious. The physical reactions he exhibited did not in and of themselves signify that he was conscious or feeling any pain. In the second place, he buried a young woman alive, leaving her to suffocate beneath the earth of her grave. As far as I'm concerned, that greatly reduces my dismay over his somewhat protracted death.
If Oklahoma - or any other state - wants to simplify the administration of the death penalty and ensure that it's painless, a single shot to the base of the skull from a suitable handgun will do the job at a cost per round of a few cents. If no volunteers can be found to pull the trigger, one could build the gun into a seat or framework and have it fired automatically by a timer or other means. That would be a lot simpler and more reliable than the complex rigmarole currently employed - and a lot cheaper, too.