Another botched execution

Joseph Rudolph Wood III had his death sentence carried out today in Arizona.  Like some of the previous executions, it didn’t go quite as planned, and it took just under 2 hours for Wood to die.

Death penalty cases brings out all kinds of reactions from different people.  Some are for it while others are against it.  In my younger days, I didn’t see anything wrong with it as I just saw it as part of our justice system.  Nowadays, I’m not quite as sold on the application of the death penalty.

Our justice system, in my opinion, is not set up to determine innocence or guilt.  It’s more about what you can prove or disprove.  If there is a clear-cut case with no room for error, then if it’s a capital crime, I see nothing wrong with the death penalty.  When evidence is less than concrete, that’s where my mind is beginning to change.  This is mostly because of the number of innocent men that have been saved from execution.  What also weighs on my mind is the disproportionate way the death penalty is meted out.

I haven’t read the case on Woods, so I don’t know what he did to deserve the death penalty.  If we’re going to be exceptional as we like to claim, does exceptional also include barbaric methods of dealing with justice?  If we’re going with the Biblical “eye-for-an-eye” form of justice, how can we condemn Islamic countries that stone people to death?

I have a high school classmate who’s sitting on death row back at home.  He and one other person killed some people in a robbery in my hometown.  Had I not had a last-minute change of mind and stayed at school, I could have very well been a victim of that robbery myself.  I think about that sometimes, and I think about the friend I lost in that robbery.  I’ve thought that case would steady my view on the death penalty, but it hasn’t had that effect.  In this particular case, the facts were known, and the correct perpetrators were found.  It’s been more than 20 years since the incident, and he’s still sitting on death row.  How does that deter anyone from committing  a crime?

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6 thoughts on “Another botched execution

  1. I’m as down on violent crime as any conservative, but I realized some years ago that the penal system isn’t about settling scores or giving society the opportunity for ‘payback’ from convicted felons. It’s about — and properly so — salvaging the lives of convicts so that maybe, one day, they can become contributing members of society, even if they never see the outside of the prison walls again. Given that churches aim to ‘salvage souls,’ is ‘salvaging lives’ rather than ending them on a metal gurney in a ludicrous little amphitheater such a ridiculous pursuit?
    I don’t know if you’re familiar with it, Brosephus, but the Governor of Illinois declared a moratorium on the death penalty back around 2000; he did it because the Chicago Tribune ran a series of articles on issues and problems with the state’s legal system that led to many questionable convictions — including several cases that were later vacated or overturned based on new evidence. Eventually, IL banned capital punishment about two or three years ago.

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    • I don’t recall that, but I wouldn’t be against something like that if there was proof it was warranted.

      As I’ve grown older, my views on our justice and penal systems have shifted. I still believe in justice, punishment, and rehabilitation. I just don’t think our system is set up to achieve those goals.

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      • I saw a documentary about it some years ago. My recollection is that some college students (maybe grad students?) did a group research project and found a bunch of inconsistencies in IL capital cases, so they got in contact with the Tribune and the Trib ran with the story. Based on that, the Gov. decided to suspend the death penalty in the state, and his next two successors (I believe one successor was Blagoevich) kept that policy in place. I’m not sure if the governor who made the suspension permanent is the same one who’s in office now, but IMO it takes a lot of political guts to do something like that.

        As Warden Norton (Bob Gunton) says in The Shawshank Redemption, “there’s only three ways to spend the taxpayers’ hard-earned when it comes to prisons — more walls, more bars, more guards.”

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