Maybe Alabama just shouldn’t try to execute anyone else.
I know, I know – a completely crazy idea in this state where all life is sacred, but listen to me for a minute. Because on Thursday night, Alabama botched another execution.
This time, it took the crack staff at Holman Correctional Facility so long to find a vein to administer the toxic cocktail that would end Kenneth Eugene Smith’s life that they had to cancel the whole thing.
This failed attempt followed another failed vein find in September and the absolute slaughter of a human in July.
What really happened in any of these cases, we will never really know, because the Alabama Department of Justice keeps its execution records top secret and never reveals details of successful or unsuccessful execution attempts. Unless compelled to do so by a court.
which it often is. The Alabama death penalty process has been a bonanza for state attorneys.
From the numerous pleas it must defend, to the protocols it tries to keep secret, to the drug and death procedures it seeks to implement, Alabama’s taxpayers have dumped tens of millions of dollars in legal fees over the years . All in an effort to kill other people.
More precisely: The clumsy attempt to kill other people.
It’s time to stop.
Now, before we move much further, you should know one thing: I am a bleeding-heart liberal, I am not an anti-death penalty opponent.
I believe that the execution should be transparent and much more open to the public. I believe that the protocols, including the drugs used, should be shared with the public and the media, and that step-by-step accounting should be available afterwards. I believe that the executed person should be treated with the utmost dignity and respect and that the state should behave in a manner befitting an entity that has the weight to end a human life. And I believe that the legal process should focus on establishing the guilt of a person sentenced to death, rather than pursuing the ridiculous and unfair process of locking apparently innocent men and women in cages or, worse yet, executing them for crimes they have committed not committed.
Why anyone would expect or accept anything less than the above is beyond me.
I mean, my God, we’re talking about ending a human life here. In a country where we claim to take the sanctity of life so seriously that we force a child to carry a rape pregnancy through threats of imprisonment.
We shouldn’t be talking about the inability to find veins or trying to buy suspicious deadly injectable drugs on the black market. We shouldn’t hide logs. We should not cover up medical procedures. And we shouldn’t screw up the majority of our executions.
That’s not right and we all know that.
And no discussion of the prisoner’s past crimes can absolve us of these errors. I am so sick of seeing pronouncements from the governor’s office or the AG using the crimes of the death row inmates as an excuse to proceed with an execution process they know will be flawed, or the execution a person with intellectual disabilities.
It’s a copout. It uses the idea of revenge as a facade to cover up the fact that the state is not up to the high standards required to carry out executions.
Because the death penalty is not about revenge. If so, then we’re no better than the people who commit crimes.
And right now, Alabama isn’t much better than the men on death row. In fact, when it comes to our correctional facility, we may have less moral standing.
We have allowed our prison system to become hell on earth through sheer neglect and personal indifference. A place where men and women are routinely tortured to death under the supervision of paid state employees. Beaten beyond recognition. sodomized. Raped. Terrorized to the point of psychotic outbursts. Starved. Denial of primary medical care. Refused necessary medication. murdered.
In some cases – and now in some cases with the full knowledge of the state – these crimes are committed by state officials. Covered up by state officials. Defended by state employees and well-paid lawyers hired by state employees with taxpayers’ money.
And nothing I just wrote can be refuted. It’s all contained in court documents available for reading by any resident of this country, filed by the US Department of Justice. Very little of it is even denied.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Alabama cannot conduct a humane execution. It has not behaved humanely in any aspect of this state’s correctional system.
This state long ago lost the moral superiority required to stand as the executioner of people. And we should impose a moratorium on executions until we regain it.