Two items front and center on today's NPR news headlines and in-depth stories:
1. Ohio's (and other states') "Death by Lethal Injection" has run into problems because an execution took unusually long, and because Ohio was using a new, untested cocktail of drugs in the procedure. [click HERE for full story] Pharmaceuticals as well as medical professionals -- to administer the drug for what was intended to be a more humane death penalty -- are balking at participating in death by lethal injection.
2. Deaths from heroin overdose is showing a dramatic spike in many communities. It's cheap, easy to obtain, and allegedly provides an attractive, pill-like high unless and overdose puts a user to sleep permanently. [Click HERE for video and tex of CNN coverage.]
I never will attempt to argue in favor of capital punishment vs. life in prison. Death penalty opponents claim that this punishment, no matter what the crime, constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. However, some might argue that spending your life in prison with no chance of parole might be a more cruel and unusual punishment, especially if a criminal is abused while in prison and if the alternative is a painless and peaceful death. I imagine this might be a very powerful but personal choice.
Which would you prefer?
Now, if the pharmaceutical companies AND health care professionals are refusing to participate in providing lethal injections, those states where the death penalty still exist are starting to consider alternatives. These might include:
1. a firing squad (Two states, Idaho and Utah, still authorize this, but several other states are considering reinstating firing squads because of the lethal injection controversy)
2. the electric chair (still utilized in eleven states)
3. gas chamber (introduced in 1933 as more humane than electricution, but discontinued in 1996)
4. hanging (an option still available in Delaware, New Hampshire and Washington.)
Click HERE for the timeline and the ACL's opinion of these forms of capital punishments.
5. guillotine (originally invented in late 1700's by Doctor Joseph Ignace Guillotin, in an attempt to provide a more humane form of capital punishment. Guillotin belonged to a small political reform movement that wanted to banish the death penalty completely. Click HERE for the full story of the guillotine)
I don't know about you, but if I knew I was facing the death penalty -- even if I was not guilty...no ESPECIALLY IF I was NOT GUILTY -- I would prefer not to suffer. I would MUCH prefer to leave this world the way a beloved pet does, to be put to sleep without suffering. And it sure sounds like an obvious, inexpensive, and humane solution would be to allow a criminal to administer a heroin overdose, either to himself/herself. Or prisons could allow a seasoned heroin user to administer the allegedly painless drug that could provide a euhporic high before a condemned person drifted off to sleep.
I doubt that any of the members of the heroin drug cartels would balk at participating in providing the drug, or worry that their reputation might be sullied if they did. In fact, based on the amount of heroin confiscated in recent drug busts, I doubt we'd have to involve the drug cartels at all. No taxpayer money would have to be contributed to this dark, underworld industry, known for its lawlessness and violence. The substance used in the lethal injection wouldn't cost the taxpayer anything beyond the salary of the law enforcement officials who confiscated the drug.
For those opposed to capital punishment, a possible compromise would be to offer a condemned criminal the choice of life in prison without parole vs. nodding off with a heroin overdose.
I'm just sayin....it may seem like a dark subject, but hearing these two news stories back to back certainly struck me as exceptionally ironic, with a very "logical conclusion." Anyone else feel this way, or am I a heartless Vulcan?