The following post involves discussion of the Death Penalty. Some of the language and links contained in the post may create harsh imagery for selected individuals.
On December 13, 2006 the state of Florida legally executed convicted murderer, Angel Nieves Diaz. Mr. Diaz had been convicted for the murder of a Miami strip club manager 27 years ago. The initial attempt to execute him was botched and required a second dose administered as he struggled against the pain from the first dose. Final analysis was that the veins had been completely punctured and the dose was spread through out the area injected. Mr. Diaz, who likely was an associate of the murderer if not the actual perpetrator, claimed innocence from the beginning of his charges until his death. Mr. Diaz was convicted and executed despite no actual witness to the crime, despite that he acted as his own lawyer while having no legal background, despite that he spoke poor English and required a translator to communicate that allowed minimal communication with the court, despite that there was conflicting pretrial and post-trial psychological evaluations as to his ability to stand trial and despite prosecution witnesses that renounced their testimony.
Before I go any further with my post I will state on record, while conservative to moderate leaning on many issues, I do not believe in the death penalty as a form of criminal punishment except possibly in rare cases like the Timothy McVeigh/Oklahoma City bombing events. So I will freely admit that my opinion concerning these issues is way off-center. My personal opinion dates way back to a college research paper I did over a decade ago concerning crime, punishment, the mistake filled process of prosecution and uneven methods in which it was handed out. I am not going to dig up that old paper and post my conclusions. I will however post the essence of my thoughts at the time.
Deterrent seems to be the rallying call of pro-death penalty advocates. Though it does stop the individual from recreating the crime, so does a lifetime of solitary confinement. Plus most of the information I have read suggests that deterrent is not a factor in most murders. Most murders are crimes of passion such as rage over infidelity or a belief that the killer has been wronged or tormented by the individual murdered. Crimes of passion are normally committed when an individual has lost control of their sense of rationality; death penalty as a deterrent requires rational thought at the time of the crime.
Another problem with the death penalty is that it is administered disproportionately. The poor and minorities (often the same people) are far more likely to be incarcerated and/or executed than those that are capable of acquiring high-powered attorneys
There is no humane method to kill an individual. I once read that during the act of beheading the mind and nervous systems work for around 15 seconds after the sever. Probably many that have lived on farms have been witness to similar situations when slaughtering chickens for food. I can remember as a child watching as the dead body of the chickens would often run around the yard long after their heads had been removed. Lethal injection, the way used on Mr. Diaz, has its negative aspects, human error and equipment failure, as does every other form of execution. A 2005 seven state study by University of Miami researchers generated a report that stated in their toxicology findings that 43 out of 49 executed individuals had been given insufficient doses than required of the anesthesia to be present in the lethal injection cocktails. The doses tested out less than those doses given to surgery patients. In 21 of the individuals the dose was determined to be so low that it was probable that they were not in complete unconscious state, as the dose is supposed to achieve, during the execution. In the case of Diaz, it required a second dose to finish the execution long after his death was to be final. Florida, like 37 other states, has adopted lethal injection to replace other previously and also flawed systems such as the electric chair (states have had individuals’ heads burst into flames), the gas chamber and hanging. There is no quick, humane or relatively painless method in which to kill someone, which is the selling point of every evolvement of execution methods
Most importantly the judicial system is full of human error that can and has resulted in numerous innocent people facing and being convicted of the death penalty. And no one is really certain just how many innocent individuals have went to their death for crimes they did not commit. An article from 2003 that I read further anchored my disagreement with the death penalty when it pointed out that between 1972 and 2003 over 100 people convicted and sent to death row had since been exonerated of their crimes. There were eleven of those individuals found innocent in what I had always thought to be one of the more sensible justice administering states, our state of Illinois. A further look into the situation by a later study for the years between 2000 and 2005 found 36 individuals in the country found innocent of the crimes for what they originally been ordered to their death. My original writing on the subject had included the very process is often built on and around faulty witnesses and information. Many witnesses’ testimony are not only untrustworthy but like the one in Mr. Diaz’s trial, who was also a fellow prisoner, they may well recant their testimony that was used to convict the individual. The OJ Simpson trial has become the poster trial for good evidence gone badly. Corrupted crime scenes, possible tainted and police with possible hate agendas. Currently DNA evidence is supposed to be very reliable, yet since the OJ Simpson trial DNA has gotten a bad rep. DNA is good science in its basest form, the real problems rest in the human error factors that happen moving along the system. Prosecutors, police and even judges can have their own agendas that influence trials. Though not a death penalty case, the current Duke lacrosse team trial also exposes some problems with DNA evidence’s creditability and creates the image of prosecutorial agenda at the same time.
Then as well as now I find it unacceptable to accidentally execute one innocent citizen to get revenge on other individuals that can be simply made powerless to damage society further by their permanent incarceration. If the subject is guilty, then a lifetime of solitary confinement would be a harsh sentence that leaves room for correcting any judicial system errors. I also that those convicted of death penalty crimes should be offered the choice of 23 hour solitary confinement or limited contact confinement and imprisonment that revolves around extreme medical and psychological studies and evaluation of their homicidal activities for the rest of their natural life unless proven innocent. In my opinion to take their life serves no purpose other than revenge. I also believe society should also attempt to avoid the Richard Speck approach of punishment of where a convicted murderer is actually allowed to use the system to for personal entertainment, and a convicted murderer should instead be given an opportunity to pay for their crimes by a life sentence punishment of extreme medical and psychological study at the hands of experts, which should eventually lead to paths that could help future generations lessen the cause and effects that lead to most murders. My viewpoint is we cannot fix the horrible events surrounding a murder that might have already happened, but we can use the horrendous sequence of events to help find a way to reach out to the future with a hope of understanding about how to reduce those predators and their murderous actions that continually terrify this country.