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Archive for Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Cruel and unusual for whom?

December 19, 2006

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Which of the following scenarios constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, as prohibited by the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution: (1) aborting a baby with a fully developed nervous system and probably inflicting great pain; (2) murdering a nightclub manager in cold blood; (3) taking 34 minutes - twice the normal time - to execute the murderer of the nightclub manager?

Anti-death penalty forces want us to believe number three. They claim the Dec. 13 execution in Florida of Angel Nieves Diaz took too long and required a second injection, thus violating the Eighth Amendment. Florida's outgoing governor, Jeb Bush, has suspended all executions in his state pending an investigation into the state's lethal-injection process. In California, U.S. District Judge Jeremy D. Fogel declared California's execution procedure unconstitutional and lethal injections - the preferred execution method in 37 states - an offense to the ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

One wishes such considerations were available to relatives of the deceased, and to the deceased, themselves, who are not given a choice in the method of their execution, much less the option of continuing to live. Diaz spent more than two decades in prison before he was executed. That probably inflicted cruel and unusual punishment on the relatives of his victim.

Before too much blood spills from "bleeding heart liberals," it might be helpful to look at Mr. Diaz's criminal resume. According to court records, Diaz was convicted of second-degree murder in his native Puerto Rico. He escaped from prison there and also from Connecticut's Hartford Correctional Center in 1981. In Hartford, he held one guard at knifepoint while another was beaten. Diaz was responsible for three other inmates escaping with him.

As to the constitutional issue regarding cruel and unusual punishment, here too, some history may be helpful. This is why "original intent" of the Founders is important to consider, because what they meant by the phrase and what we think we believe about it differs considerably.

At the time the Bill of Rights was written, the authors specifically sought to ban such execution methods as burning at the stake, crucifixion and breaking on the wheel. In modern times, the Supreme Court has decided cases that redefine what the Founders meant. In Hudson v. McMillan (1992), the court ruled that the use of excessive physical force against a prisoner might constitute cruel and unusual punishment, even if a prisoner does not suffer serious pain.

Aside from the period between 1967 and 1976, when capital punishment was effectively suspended, the Supreme Court has consistently ruled that the death penalty does not violate the Eighth Amendment, but that some applications of it might. The Court declared the execution of the mentally retarded to be cruel and unusual punishment and thus, barred by the Eighth Amendment (Atkins v. Virginia, 2002). In Roper v. Simmons (2005), the court ruled it was cruel and unusual punishment to put to death anyone who was under the age of 18 at the time they committed their crime.

I don't know how you define cruel and unusual in a lethal injection case. Angel Nieves Diaz was said to have a physical condition that required more drugs to kill him than if he had not had the condition. If those administering the drugs had known about it and given him a double dose so he might die within the "norms" of such executions, would that have been constitutionally acceptable? Does this not get us into the same arbitrary standards that are applied to the unborn? At first, the Supreme Court imposed an arbitrary trimester standard, forbidding the state from restricting a woman's decision in the first three months. But subsequent rulings have resulted in abortion on demand, for any or no reason and at any time.

Will the same erosion of justice against convicted killers mimic the erosion of rights for the unborn innocent? The arbitrary way in which we approach anything of importance today would suggest it might.

To avoid this legal hair-splitting, why not return to an earlier and acceptable method of execution that ensures justice is done and inflicts minimal pain on the guilty: the firing squad.

Comments

drewdun 8 years ago

I'm so glad Cal has come out against burning at the stake, crucifixion, and breaking on the wheel.

And then his anti-abortion rant - excellent.

"To avoid this legal hair-splitting, why not return to an earlier and acceptable method of execution that ensures justice is done and inflicts minimal pain on the guilty: the firing squad."

Cal Thomas and other right-wing talking heads, along with the criminal enterprise known as the Bush administration and the Congress (including many Dems) got us into a completely unnecessary war in Iraq, killing close to 3000 American troops and countless Iraqis. For this, those that brought this war to us and the Iraqis should pay the ultimate price. A new war crimes trial, ala Nuremberg, should take place. The leaders who threw away so many lives in such a cavalier manner should face the firing squad. Number 1 in line: George W Bush. Thomas, O'Reilly, Limbaugh and the other cancers should be sent to prison camps for the rest of their lives to rot in agony.

prioress 8 years ago

For this, those that brought this war to us and the Iraqis should pay the ultimate price. A new war crimes trial, ala Nuremberg, should take place. The leaders who threw away so many lives in such a cavalier manner should face the firing squad. Number 1 in line: George W Bush. Thomas, O'Reilly, Limbaugh and the other cancers should be sent to prison camps for the rest of their lives to rot in agony.

How UNchristian of you. Have you no faith in our elected leadership? Afterall, the (American) skygod chose them and talks strategy to them daily.

jonas 8 years ago

/walks in whistling

Why are we talking about abortion in this article as if it's at all relevent?

Why are we talking about Bush in this thread as if it's at all relevent?

Why do we think the contitution and the bill of rights will help us in discovering whether the death penalty is right or wrong, when it's clear that they won't?

"The firing squad?" Can that apply to both executions and to abortions? Wait, what are we talking about?

meh

/walks out whistling

bearded_gnome 8 years ago

IP: yes, see above for exhibit A on the truly loonie lefties. thought there were some not so crazy on the left but the deaniacs, moveon.org'ers and bloggers above seem to have the loudest voices on the left. some here are truly "the bloodthirsty left." they're opposed to the death penalty for a viscious crook as Cal reffed, but demanding it for Bush Cheny, there's hypocrisy! .. some even want to impeach GWB for intercepting battlefield communications, as warring parties have done for thousands of years, without a judge mucking up the works. that's loonie! some in the Senate and House with "D" before their names have still some shred of sanity on this topic and no impeachment will occur and these loons will have their heads explode.


oh, the original thread: I say: "Bring back ol' sparky!" televise it too as crime prevention.

drewdun 8 years ago

If what Bush has done is not the very definition of impeachable, I don't know what is. A blow job, maybe?

And b_g, all I'm asking for is equity. This man started a completely unnecessary war of choice that's killed hundreds of thousands of human beings - those that started this tragedy should be forced to sacrifice their lives in a manner reminiscent of the 'crime prevention' you advocate. Only this time, the crime being prevented will be mass murder/state terrorism.

As long as leaders continue to look at troops and 'collateral damage' in a completely abstract manner, these crimes will continue. An action such as holding the guilty leaders responsible for their bloodthirsty actions will alert future leaders to the fact that grunts on the battlefield and indigenous peoples aren't the only casualties of misbegotten and negligently planned wars.

Godot 8 years ago

Bring back the guillotine. Quick, sure, simple.

Vive la France!

Redneckgal 8 years ago

They are mad right_thinker. Granted " They got their school board, a Dem congress, a liberal AG," but they also got 3000 and some of our kids dead and almost guarenteed more to come because of an idiotic president and vice president. And the "they" that you refer aren't the far-left SP loons that you claim . They are the normal common everyday people a lot of whom voted for the pair of crooks the first time around. I think you better ask around the real world right_thinker. You will be surprised how many formally un-left people feel this way. That is unless you are so opinionated that they are afraid to give you there honest opinion.

bearded_gnome 8 years ago

I repeat, can't say it better: IP: yes, see above for exhibit A on the truly loonie lefties. thought there were some not so crazy on the left but the deaniacs, moveon.org'ers and bloggers above seem to have the loudest voices on the left. some here are truly "the bloodthirsty left." they're opposed to the death penalty for a viscious crook as Cal reffed, but demanding it for Bush Cheny, there's hypocrisy! .. some even want to impeach GWB for intercepting battlefield communications, as warring parties have done for thousands of years, without a judge mucking up the works. that's loonie! some in the Senate and House with "D" before their names have still some shred of sanity on this topic and no impeachment will occur and these loons will have their heads explode.

jonas 8 years ago

"Posted by right_thinker (anonymous) on December 19, 2006 at 7:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I guess when you're a minority, you must scream very loud----Al Gore knows the drill."

You mean like conservatives? Just admit that the moderates, who no one talks about because they are boring, represent the vast, vast, VAST majority of actual American people, particularly before they get onto an on-line forum. Granted, this insanely cartoonized right-vs-left flame warrior. . . .

. . . "flame warrior!"

http://redwing.hutman.net/~mreed

. . . is far more interesting than the gray matter that happens in reality, but to assume that any of the highly vocalized personas on this forum in any way represent anything other than a loudly-shouting minority viewpoint is to invite a rather skewed viewpoint on reality. Kind of like when I worked as a debt collector: no matter the representative sample that I run across most frequently, Lawrence is not, by and large, filled with deadbeats that live in trailer parks.

BOE 8 years ago

" Cruel and unusual for whom?"

For any thinking person wading through Cal's vapid and dishonest swill, with the vain hope of seining even a scintilla of remote relevance to anything other than the strawmen he's built.

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