I am shocked, bewildered and a tad bit upset that the United States Supreme Court would open the door to legal challenges over the use of lethal injections in death penalty cases. But that's exactly what the court decided Monday in a Florida case.
Here's what's involved. When inmates run out of appeals to their death penalty convictions, increasingly they have turned to the upper courts to question whether lethal injections amount to "cruel and unusual punishment."
The inmates' argument is that the injections may not render them fully unconscious when the lethal dose of poison is finally injected. I think it's a stupid argument given the circumstances that brought them to death row in the first place.
There are currently 3,300 death row inmates awaiting execution in this country. Let's not even discuss the money involved to house and feed these killers for decades. That's enough to make your blood boil. But now they have convinced the highest court in this land that injecting poison to induce death may be "too cruel" for their final punishment. That is a crock!
Lethal injection is used in virtually every state but Nebraska, where the electric chair still performs the duty. But even the electric chair is being challenged as cruel and unusual punishment.
So where does that leave us? Firing squad? Hanging? Boiling in oil?
Why in the world would we spend our time and energy trying to determine if a convicted cop killer - as in the Florida case that prompted this ruling - deserves an execution that is pain-free? Here's another irony. Prison officials sometimes have difficulty finding a vein in the prisoner's arm to inject the lethal dose because the inmates are long-term drug users and have destroyed their veins. Go figure!
I assume dropping a couple tons of bricks on a prisoner might be swift punishment without any of the "cruel and unusual" aspects but that's not about to happen. Drowning a child killer might seem appropriate in some instances but surely there would be an argument against that as well. Or do we want to follow the lead of our friends in the Mideast and try beheading?
What a stupid argument this truly is. Maybe instead of questioning the form of execution we should examine why we strive so passionately against anything "cruel and unusual"? Ask a family member of a victim and they would probably not have too much concern about the "cruel" nature of the execution.
Will we eventually determine that any form of execution is cruel and unusual and declare the death penalty invalid? And if so, will we spend more time and money on trials of convicts who kill other convicts because they know that nothing more severe will happen to them?
Maybe we should have a contest to determine what execution method would be the most effective and the most gentle on the condemned. If American Idol generated 50 million calls, surely this question would generate quite a buzz itself!