Seems hard to believe now, but the electric chair was brought about to be a more humane option over hanging. Hanging often took too long, which meant the person being executed suffered considerably and unnecessarily. The point of execution is that they die for their crime, not be tortured then die. It was also uncomfortable and traumatic for the people watching it happen.
When I was 10, lethal injection was being used for the first time in Texas. But I hadn’t learned about it yet. I was a little slow getting the news at that age and was just learning about the chair. Like all of us, I was horrified. Just thinking about what that could involve is the stuff nightmares are made of. But not long thereafter I did learn about lethal injection and felt better about it. And that is the reason it’s called more humane. It makes us feel better. The chair likely killed the prisoner faster (An acquaintance of mine died from hitting a power line at work. He died instantly. Surely the chair uses just as much voltage if not more than that power line.). When lethal injection is used, they do inject a chemical intended to put the person in a “deep unconscious state.” But in most cases there isn’t a professional present who confirms that they are in that level of unconsciousness (Ironically, this is a step required when euthanizing pets).
And in many cases there have been disturbing evidence found to confirm they felt the pain of the potassium chloride burning through their veins and inducing cardiac arrest.If we were looking for the most humane method, maybe we would stick to a bullet to the temple. Nothing is faster. But that would make us queasy. So barbaric…
I do not believe in capital punishment. Yes, I believe people do things that they deserve to die for. And, yes, if a family member of mine was the victim in one of those crimes, I would want to kill that person myself I’m sure! But I’m not convinced that taking a life is the answer.
Yes, the Old Testament has God commanding capital punishment. But then the New Testament came along with one execution—one that involved excruciating physical, emotional, and mental pain—that was done for all of humanity. That one should be enough.
Congratulations Dead Man Walking. This is your week.
And the Oscar goes to…
Best Actor: Sean Penn as Matthew Poncelet in Dead Man Walking.
Best Quote: “Why don’t skeletons play music in church? Because they got no organs.” — Richard Dreyfuss as Centipede in James and the Giant Peach.
Little known fact. France stopped using the guillotine for capital punishment the same year Texas adopted lethal injection: 1977! They got rid of judicial executions altogether five years later, while in that very same year Texas put lethal injection to use for the first time. Ok, I need to watch some cartoons or a Chris Farley flick or something…