The death penalty on death row?

It seems that capital punishment in the USA has had its longest time. According to The Guardian this is not due to any significant change of mind, but because the, mainly European, suppliers of the drugs used in lethal injection refuses to supply these drugs to prisons. Pharmaceutical corporations don’t want to be associated with executions, of course for reasons of public relations.

Though lethal injection has championed as being the most humane way executing people, it’s not without controversy. Opponents of lethal injection claim that lethal in injection only masked the suffering of the condemned by paralysing him or her, but does not really render him or her unconscious. Hence lethal injection does cause agonizing pain to executed.

Any way, the number of executions in the US is steadily in decline. Both opponents of the death penalty should not cheer to early. It’s possible that states might switch other possible methods of execution. Though it take a long time to change the death penalty statues, a process that inevitable will ignite the discussion about capital punishment itself.

Opponents of the death penalty often argue that life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is sufficient to protect society from dangerous criminals. With the additional benefit of being able to release those who are wrongly convicted. However it’s far from certain that such a life sentence is actually a more humane punishment than death. Long term prison sentences have severe effects on human psychology, and some researchers even consider imprisonment as a kind of torture.

But there might be a third alternative besides capital punishment and life without the possibility of parole: voluntary execution by nitrogen asphyxiation. Voluntary execution means that a convicted criminal has to decide whether (s)he will spend the remainder of his/her life in prison or that (s)he will be executed. Nitrogen asphyxiation is a cheap, reliable and painless method of execution, originally investigated in animal slaughter.

9 thoughts on “The death penalty on death row?”

  1. Long term imprisonment is in my opinion retributive in the sense there is no chance that the criminal will ever be released to join the general population. What need will he have to reform?

    1. The only purpose of long prison sentences is to protect society from a dangerous offender, by removing the latter from society. This has nothing to do with rehabilitation, all evidence suggest that prison only achieves the exact opposite (prisons are often called universities of crime).

      If we need to remove people from society, because they’re a threat to society, than at least we should offer them a choice between imprisonment and a dignified death.

      1. I can’t argue with this. I agree society must be able to protect itself from dangerous repeat offenders. I also agree they should be given an option of taking their lives if parole is out of the question.

  2. At the risk of sounding glib,wouldn’t the most humane way of execution be by surprise? It’s more human to not know the end is coming as to the manner in which it comes. An animal hit by a car,a sudden heart attack.. “Well,at least they didn’t suffer” or ” It happened so suddenly” kind of rational?

    1. This is not an entirely bad idea, however I see some practical concerns. If some is executed by surprised, we have to do it in a way which kills quickly. If it would take too much time, than it might be more cruel than intended. And of course, some who has been sentenced to die, would know he could be killed at any time. This might cause constant nervousity with the condemned, negating to effect of surprise.

      1. The appeals process could garner similar feelings too,also further altering a timeframe. However,all due respect,a few pre-execution jitters for atrocities committed,verses a sudden,painless death is at the least minimum risk and in most cases more consideration than given their victims?

  3. Once a supporter of the death penalty in extreme cases, I now oppose it. Its aggregate societal costs are prohibitive, and it provides no legitimate deterrent to violent crime. There have been many death-row convictions that were either overturned, or should have been overturned, based on new DNA evidence. Furthermore, state-sanctioned killing in an all-too-murderous world is counterproductive IMO because it feeds the dangerous growth of political authoritarianism.

    Regarding “voluntary executions,” this would be acceptable only with the inclusion of verifiable safeguards to ensure such individuals are: 1) not being coerced, and 2) psychological competent.

    1. “There have been many death-row convictions that were either overturned, or should have been overturned, based on new DNA evidence.”

      The problem of wrongful convictions, is in my opinion, not exclusive for the death penalty. Many people are wrongly sentenced to (life) imprisonment each year, only wrong death sentences are more dramatical because the irrevocable nature of the death penalty.

      Wrongful convictions are not a problem of the death penalty, or any other punishment, but of the judicial system. From what I know, the US judicial system in particular has several severe defects.

      1. Point well taken. It is precisely those defects in the U.S. judicial system which makes the death penalty problematic. There can be no remediation for an irrevocable punishment.

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