Date
19 August 2017
A cemetery for prisoners in Huntsville, Texas. Capital punishment does not work because it does not serve any purpose. Photo: AFP
A cemetery for prisoners in Huntsville, Texas. Capital punishment does not work because it does not serve any purpose. Photo: AFP

Compassion for the condemned, pain for victims’ families

When a death row convict takes two hours to die, does that make the execution inhumane and society cruel?

The answer has been lost for years somewhere between moral indignation and the law, but it has not stopped the question from popping up every now and then.

On Thursday, an Arizona man “gasped and snorted” before dying, two hours after he was given lethal injection which was supposed to take him out within minutes, according to the Financial Times.

His family – and his lawyers – were rightly horrified by the crudeness with which society administered final justice to the double murderer.

And Americans reached deep into their conscience to renew the debate – and try to win the fight — over capital punishment.

In fact, the issue is not whether the death penalty should stay or go. It’s clear from recent history that it has no place in many countries. The United States is one of a few holdouts which include China, some countries in the Middle East and Southeast Asia and a sprinkling in Europe.

Rather, the issue is one of social dilemma that continues to overlook victims of heinous crime.

Rarely are their sufferings given as much weight as the struggles of a condemned criminal in the death chamber when the time comes.

It’s as though society has an obligation to ensure they pass on quietly and painlessly. Pity the family of their victims whose only comfort is justice and whose healing has taken all this long.

This is why capital punishment does not work because it does not serve any purpose.

The experience in other countries shows us that a penal system that combines rehabilitation with punishment is a far superior method of dealing with convicts.

Except in cases where released prisoners continue to commit crime, the system has held up well in general.

The strongest argument against capital punishment has to be that not all those in prison are guilty and those out of it innocent.

Given how the wheels of justice grind ever so slowly, miscarriage has been committed too many times to count.

Many an innocent person have been sent to their death.

– Contact us at [email protected]

RA/CG

EJ Insight contributor

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