"If lethal drugs aren't available, Missouri may go back to gas," is the editorial published by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Last week, in the latest twist in Missouri’s difficult history with capital punishment, state Attorney General Chris Koster once again urged the state Supreme Court to set execution dates for two convicted murderers.
Reason: If they’re not executed before next spring, the batches of Missouri’s new execution drug will reach their expiration dates.
Also: Mr. Koster raised the possibility that unless the court acts, the Missouri Legislature might have to bring back the gas chamber. We hope he’s not serious, but he does intend to run for governor in 2016.
The “don’t let the drugs expire before the inmates do” situation is unseemly and remarkably bizarre, but it’s happened before. In 2011, the state’s last remaining supplies of sodium thiopental expired. The state just got under the wire in February 2011 when Martin Link became the last man to be executed with sodium thiopental, administered as part of the three-drug protocol that had been standard for more than three decades.
So here’s a better idea: Forget capital punishment. It is by nature arbitrary and capricious; for example, Martin Link just happened to be next in line before the last dose of sodium thiopental expired. Trials and appeals cost millions of dollars. It does not serve to deter crime. Sometimes — not often, but sometimes — innocent people are executed. The death penalty has a certain retributive appeal, but it is not a practice fit for a great nation.
The editorial is also re-published by the Columbia Missourian as, "WHAT OTHERS SAY: The irony of capital punishment in Missouri."
Earlier coverage from Missouri begins at the link.