« An early sentencing take on the Libby trial | Main | CJ Roberts and sentencing law: the virtues (and vices?) of consensus »

January 16, 2007

Do execution headaches impact where capital debates are headed?

These are heady times for botched executions: as detailed here, the recent ugly hanging in Iraq continues to make headlines; as detailed here, condemned prisoners in the US continue to make headway arguing that lethal injection protocols are unconstitutional.  But I continue to wonder whether all the execution headaches will in any way impact where debates over the death penalty may be headed.

Are heads of state influenced by these developments or are they too headstrong to be influenced by all the headlines?  Do botched executions shine a headlight on broader death penalty issues or do they provide little reason to stall a headlong pursuit of capital justice?

January 16, 2007 at 08:47 AM | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451574769e200d834d7c08253ef

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Do execution headaches impact where capital debates are headed?:

Comments

What botches do is remind foreign gov'ts & abolitionist states why they don't have the death penalty. Specifically, the recent botches has caused our European friends to remind us that state killing is viewed by almost all of Christiandom as immoral & another reason why we are growingly more estranged from our the European community.

Posted by: anony | Jan 16, 2007 8:53:46 AM

If we truly think that these people deserve to die, why should the "headaches" matter? If these are the worst of the worst of humanity, what difference does it make that lethal injections are not always painless and hangings don't always leave the head attached?

Posted by: | Jan 16, 2007 9:51:25 AM

If we truly think that these people deserve to die, why should the "headaches" matter? If these are the worst of the worst of humanity, what difference does it make that lethal injections are not always painless and hangings don't always leave the head attached?

Well, one possible explanation is that we like to think of ourselves as more civilized than the people we are executing.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Jan 16, 2007 12:25:47 PM

Botched executions show the lack of care our society affords the condemned. It's really not that hard to look up a hanging drop height on a table, just as it's not hard to start an IV competently (FL), mix dosages properly (MO), check and see that the condemned is unconscious before injecting him with poisonous salt (CA), and make sure anesthetic doesn't drip on the floor instead into a vein (TX). Sure, accidents happen, but recklessness by State executioners is barbaric. How would we react if these errors occurred in the operating room?

Posted by: txjeansguy | Jan 16, 2007 1:13:40 PM

Of course we like to think of ourselves as more civilized than the people we're killing. That's why we don't boil people in oil, stone them to death, or try to reenact the way in which the killers attacked their victims.

That said, I don't see why it is so intolerable that the death penalty is carried out with less than absolute perfection.

If you're opposed to the death penalty, the occasional flaw in the execution is one of the worst arguments against the death penalty. Better arguments are: (1) among the pool of horrific murderers, those selected for the death penalty are more likely to be the ones with bad lawyers or the ones who refused to plead guilty, rather than the most culpable and (2) the occasional execution of innocents.

Opposing the death penalty because of these "headaches" is like opposing war because of friendly fire incidents.

Posted by: | Jan 17, 2007 8:55:26 AM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB