With increasing frequency former judges, prosecutors, law enforcement officers and corrections officials are voicing concerns about the death penalty. Some are saying that the money wasted could be better utilized. Some are saying that the judicial process is never going to be fair for capital cases. Some are saying that the toll an execution takes on the prison staff is too high, resulting in lifelong emotional and mental problems. That’s what they are saying, and I agree, but what could they be doing?
Numerous former judges and prosecutors have acknowledged their roles in convicting innocent men and sending them to death row. It is not too late to do something about those cases. it the defendants are still alive, bring the relevant facts to light so that they can get justice. If you are aware of problems with a case where the defendant has already been executed, don’t let that stop you from doing the right thing. Let the next generation of DA’s and judges learn not to make the same mistakes. Perhaps the best thing you could do to get your state to abandon capital punishment would be to overturn all those old cases.
For law enforcement officers, police chiefs, and sheriffs who now understand that an ounce of prevention is worth far more than any number of executions, encourage your state, county and local government to stop throwing away money on capital prosecutions. The voice of reason when it comes to crime prevention carries weight coming from you. If you want to have more resources for training and patrolling neighborhoods, the money has to come from somewhere, why not pull it from the futile effort to satisfy the thirst for revenge?
In Alabama the prison population is twice what the facilities were designed for. Obviously this creates an unsafe environment for inmates and officers. While Alabama’s prison population increases, the money being spent on capital prosecutions and appeals could be better spent on housing and staff. Life without parole isn’t letting criminals off the hook for their crimes, but it would prevent the psychological stress that the execution team will never be able to forget.
These people have all decided that the death penalty is a bad idea, because they are close enough to it to see the flaws. Dr. Jay Chapman, the man who is credited with the first lethal injection cocktail has 50 years of experience doing autopsies and has seen the misconduct that can occur. He wonders how does one sort it all out? Well, you go back and fix what you can and hope that you can live with the ones you can’t.
When Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito said that the Oklahoma case of Glossip v. Gross was part of a “guerilla war”, I couldn’t believe that he was comparing activists to guerillas. it struck me as odd, not because he is technically wrong, but because of the associations that the word guerilla has picked up over the years.
Before I go into the implications that Alito wanted to conjure in the court, I have to tell you what guerilla really means. A person who is part of a small independent group who is fighting against a government, is a guerilla. So yes, technically that would describe anyone advocating for change, including George Washington and the rest of the founding fathers of America. The problem I have is that no one thinks of those heroes when they hear the word guerilla. The image Alito wanted to paint for the public was of guerilla fighters setting booby traps in the jungle, or a jeep full of “rebels” waving assault rifles at innocent women and children. That’s what Alito wanted to associate with opponents of capital punishment. Instead of focusing on the actual issues with the drug midazolam, his goal, from the outset, was to turn the attention away from the execution method. This is a very common tactic to use when you know you can’t win an argument. So, when Alito and Scalia both employed distraction so early on, they knew that they couldn’t establish midazolam as a safe & effective replacement for sodium thiopental in executions. There is simply too much data, and expert testimony to the contrary.
So, to remove all distractions, the court can decide that pain and suffering during executions is ok and allow the continued use of midazolam, or stop the use of midazolam, because it’s not ok.
last update: 07/01/2015