The Inside Pitch: Is a Botched Execution an 8th Amendment Violation?
Several weeks ago a botched execution in Oklahoma brought the question as to whether or not the condemned man’s 8th Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment had been violated. Now, this is NOT the argument as to whether or not he “got what he deserved,” or “he went easier than his victim(s) did.” That argument is about vengeance, this is about Constitutional rights.
For the record, he did deserve to die and I have no issue per se with a death penalty. But, if we are going to be intellectually honest, then we have to accept that the execution of citizens by the State MUST fall within the limits of the Constitution and the law. Any State administered punishment which deviates from the sentence, is de facto, cruel and unusual. You don’t have to like that, but if you are truly upholding and defending, you do have to accept it as a fact.
So let us reconsider for just a moment what may have happened in Oklahoma. Did we torture the condemned man? What if the process and the drugs were so badly executed that great pain and suffering were inflicted?
Again, I know what he did to his victim, this is not that. This is a judicial procedure performed under the law. Q.E.D., you must put all consideration of anything except what happens to this man aside. As it turned out, this was not the first occurrence of this type of error and subsequent problems. I will warn you, DO NOT READ THIS ARTICLE unless you are prepared for high quality autopsy photographs. But HERE IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A LETHAL INJECTION EXECUTION GOES WRONG. Again, do not click on that unless you are mentally prepared.
But if you do read it, ask yourself a couple of questions. First, given the realpolotik of the death penalty, does this help or hurt the argument for the death penalty?
Second, if you were the Judge who pronounced sentence, would you be satisfied that your instructions had been carried out?
Lastly, if you were the legislator who voted for the law prescribing the methodology of execution, is this what you intended to have happen?
Regardless of your feelings about vengeance, if the Death Penalty is to stay on the books and to be used (not here in California, of course), can this be an acceptable means to carry it out?
Now ask yourself, were the condemned man’s 8th Amendment rights violated? And if you, like I did, conclude that they were, what should we do about it?