"That problematic penalty," is the Boulder Daily Camera editorial, signed by Erika Stutzman for the Colorado paper's editorial board.
The State has become a ghoulish executioner.
Ohio became the most recent state to either end or halt the death penalty, as states around the country grapple with what has become an unacceptable part of our criminal justice system. A handful of states have recently, and rightfully, more or less permanently stepped away from the practice, finding it arbitrary, too costly, and in order to eliminate the very real risk that someone wrongfully accused could be put to death.
We had hoped the death penalty would end here in Colorado, too. Not because we believe there are innocent men on death row at present, but because it highlights how arbitrary the penalty can be. Where one commits a crime seems to factor in more than anything at all; the color of a convict's skin plays a role. Someone white could commit a heinous crime in Boulder and die in prison; if he were a young black man in Aurora committing the exact same crime, he might face death row.
Black people in Colorado's make up just 4.3 percent of the state's population. All three men on Colorado's death row are black, and were under the age of 21 when convicted. All three were prosecuted in Arapahoe County.
Wisconsin's Kenosha News publishes the editorial, "States should reconsider death penalty."
It was a botched execution in Kenosha that led to Wisconsin banning capital punishment.
Other states may have had other reasons for ceasing to use the death penalty, but in Wisconsin there was a direct link between a gruesome public execution and the Legislature’s decision to ban capital punishment.
Other states ought to be thinking the same way this year. There have been at least three executions that were eerily similar to the 1851 hanging of John McCaffery in Kenosha. The sheriff used a gallows that hoisted the prisoner into the air instead of dropping him through a trapdoor, which would break the prisoner’s neck and kill him instantly. McCaffery visibly struggled for five minutes in the noose and slowly strangled. It took 18 minutes before he was pronounced dead.
He was the first and last prisoner executed in the state of Wisconsin. A law banning capital punishment was passed in 1953 and is still in effect.
"Why executions can't (and shouldn't) be sterilized," is Kenneth Goodman's OpEd in the Arizona Republic. He's a professor of medicine and philosophy at the University of Miami.
One might think that after some 4,000 years of drafting rules to govern the death penalty, we might be able to get it right. But we can't.
And as Arizona's botched, bungled and blundered execution last month of Joseph Rudolph Wood again makes clear, the notion that health professionals are most appropriate agents for killing prisoners is a sad and ghastly mistake.
A society convinced it needs to kill killers is in a tight spot. The guillotine is gruesome; hanging is old-fashioned; firing squads are messy; gas chambers evoke Nazi death camps; electric chairs are macabre and have unintended consequences. (Since 1890, the only form of execution with no botched attempts is the firing squad.)