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August 23, 2014

Perspective on victims' perspectives on the death penalty

Today's Washington Post has this intriguing new commentary headlined "Death penalty debate isn’t simple for families of victims." Here are excerpts:

Botched executions in Ohio, Oklahoma and Arizona and continuing problems with lethal-injection drugs have put the death penalty back in the news.  After a brief moratorium following Oklahoma’s debacle, my state, Missouri, has resumed executing its death-row prisoners. One of the condemned men there murdered the wife of the man I would later marry....

For most people, the death penalty debate falls along ideological lines — liberals are opposed and conservatives are in favor.  But for the families of victims, the debate is not so simple and the solution is not so clear.  They cringe when they hear left-leaning commentators repeatedly describe the chilling details of a botched execution without repeating the far more chilling details of the crime the condemned man committed.  But they also cringe when they hear right-leaning commentators who promote the sanctity of life but do not question state-sanctioned death.

The killing that forever changed my husband’s life is the kind of crime that reinforces the beliefs of both sides.  Advocates of the death penalty see an unspeakably brutal murder, committed with no known motivation against a woman alone in her upscale home. Opponents see an African American male suspect convicted by a white jury and sentenced to death for the murder of a white woman, with no eyewitnesses, no DNA evidence and no confession.  They are both right.  The murder cried out for justice, but the conviction and sentencing fit a disturbing pattern of racial bias and rush to judgment....

Families of the victims, for the most part, do not weigh in on the debate.  For them, it is not a question of politics or policy.  It is personal, and whether the condemned killer dies alone in his cell or suffers an excruciating death at the hand of the state, their pain will not be erased by his.

Death penalty supporters talk of closure.  That may work as a matter of process — execution rids the state and the justice system of any further involvement — but it is much more complicated for families of victims.  Each envelope from the Department of Corrections, each anniversary when the crime is recounted in the paper, every discussion about the death penalty on TV — those are reopenings, not closings.  Our excruciatingly slow justice system has put my husband through more than 15 years of this. The killer may be getting what he deserves, but my husband will not be getting what he deserves: an end to the horrific memories that haunt him day and night.

As Missouri moves methodically through its backlog of condemned men and the killer’s last day is finally set, the crime will be back in the headlines.  Reporters will be calling my husband for comment, the condemned man’s lawyers will be interviewed, last-minute appeals on other grounds will be filed.  In the end, we can only hope that the execution drugs will be swift and effective, that the person administering them has been properly trained and that this will finally bring an end to killing in our lives.

August 23, 2014 at 02:03 PM | Permalink


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Please. Stop calling them botched. The guy died, without evidence of what anesthesiologists call, awareness.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 23, 2014 7:20:48 PM

I would provide links to anesthesia methods of monitoring and preventing awareness. But their use would be ridiculous in this situation. The condemned are getting doses 10 times higher than surgical patients. Even if the person has many of the factors associated with a risk of awareness, the dose is overwhelming and precludes it.

What I really deplore is the lack of awareness of the lawyer dumbass on the appellate bench. The word, botched, is once again, fictitious.

As to racial disparity, wait a little. The rate of bastardy is catching up in whites, now at 40%, instead of 10%. Given the attack on the white family by the criminal cult enterprise, the 70% rate of American pseudo blacks is fast approaching. There are almost no real blacks in the United States. The racial category is another fiction of the lawyer dumbass. A prominent Harvard Black studies prof and race whore? His genes are from Ireland. If you run into a real black person, they are likely to be immigrants, have traditional values, are married, and have very low crime rates, high rates of academic success.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 24, 2014 11:00:55 AM

"...my husband will not be getting what he deserves: an end to the horrific memories that haunt him day and night."

Once again, legal remedies are usually worthless and only technology will help us. The husband should see his family doctor for PTSD. No legal change will ever change his symptoms. If not interested in that subject, the family doc can refer him to a psychiatrist or a psychologist who will provide a technological solution, and end his distress. It is unfortunate that waiting long periods results in greater treatment resistance. And trauma gets burned in. Now psychiatrists are treating traumatized soldiers right on the battle field. Think of it this way, a cancer the size of a pinhead, or one the size of an orange with spread to surrounding tissues. Early treatment preference applies to the brain as well.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 24, 2014 11:36:35 AM

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