Sunday, May 18, 2014

President Orders a Review of Executions in USA

The New York Times reported on May 2, 2014, that the president declared [the] botched execution [of Clayton Lockett] in Oklahoma “deeply disturbing” and directed the attorney general . . . to review how the death penalty is applied in the United States at a time when it has become increasingly debated.

“In the application of the death penalty in this country, we have seen significant problems — racial bias, uneven application of the death penalty, you know, situations in which there were individuals on death row who later on were discovered to have been innocent because of exculpatory evidence,” Mr. Obama told reporters. “And all these, I think, do raise significant questions about how the death penalty is being applied.”

Especially with mystery drugs being used to execute Americans, many abolitionists are encouraged by the president's directive to review executions in the United States. The United Nations News Centre published an article regarding Oklahoma's botched execution. An excerpt is below:

UN rights office calls on US to impose death penalty moratorium after botched execution.

2 May 2014 – The suffering of United States inmate Clayton Lockett during his execution in Oklahoma on 29 April could amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment according to international human rights law, the United Nations said today, calling on the US authorities to impose an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty.

The prolonged death of Mr. Lockett – who reportedly died of a heart attack after an execution that went wrong – is the second case of apparent extreme suffering caused by malfunctioning lethal injections reported in 2014 in the US, according to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The other case was that of Dennis McGuire, executed by the state of Ohio on 16 January 2014 with an allegedly untested combination of drugs.

“The apparent cruelty involved in these recent executions simply reinforces the argument that authorities across the United States should impose an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty and work for abolition of this cruel and inhuman practice,” OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville told reporters in Geneva.

The Death Penalty Information Center featured a book by Austin Sarat that regards botched executions. An excerpt is below:

A new book, "Gruesome Spectacles: Botched Executions and America's Death Penalty," describes the history of flawed executions in the U.S. from 1890 to 2010. During that period, 8,776 people were executed, and 276 of those executions went wrong in some way. Of all the methods used, lethal injection had the highest rate of botched executions--about 7%. Austin Sarat, the author of the book and a professor of jurisprudence and political science at Amherst College, described the evolution of new methods of execution: "With each development in the technology of execution, the same promises have been made, that each new technology was safe, reliable, effective and humane. Those claims have not generally been fulfilled."


IT IS A LEGAL VICTORY for the president to order a review of executions by the Justice Department. In addition to the obvious human rights issues, eliminating capital punishment would save significant financial resources that should be applied to improving life rather than taking lives.

Three(3) References:
NY Times: President Obama Orders Policy Review on Executions

U.N. Calls for a Moratorium on Executions in USA

Death Penalty Information Center
BOOKS: "Gruesome Spectacles" Reveals the History of Botched Executions

This writer considers it extremely unfortunate that most executions in America happen in the Bible Belt states where churches stand on nearly every corner. For that reason, a recording giving a Christian perspective against capital punishment was published: MaryLovesJustice Show Tape 1 "End DP in Bible Belt States" at this TalkShoe link After the first 45 minutes, there is a two-minute pause, then the tape continues for another hour.

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