Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

5/23/2014 (4 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Chair may be used in cases where lethal injection cannot happen.

If there's a symbol of capital punishment in the United States, it's the electric chair. Invented by Thomas Edison and used only in the United States, the chair could make a comeback as lethal injection comes under intense scrutiny. The state of Tennessee has reintroduced the chair as a method of execution.

The electric chair may have new life if lethal injection is ruled unconstitutional or becomes impractical.

The electric chair may have new life if lethal injection is ruled unconstitutional or becomes impractical.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

5/23/2014 (4 months ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Tennessee, lethal injection, electric chair, Catholic, moral


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - On Thursday night, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R), signed a new law that would permit the use of the electric chair to execute death-row inmates should the current method of lethal injection be deemed unconstitutional or the drugs become unavailable.

Currently, lethal injections have been delayed, while cases contending the method is cruel and inhuman work their way through the courts. Last month, Oklahoma death-row inmate, Clayton Lockett survived his lethal injection, possibly because of a collapsed vein, and eventually succumbed to a heart attack some 43 minutes after the execution started.

Pray for those involved in the cases, especially the victims and survivors. May God grant them peace.

Lockett apparently regained consciousness when he should have been asleep. He probably suffered intense pain during his execution. Lethal injection is supposed to be physically painless, following the insertion of the needle. This is the grounds of the arguments being made by his lawyers. That such punishment violates the eighth amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. .

Let's make no mistake about Lockett. He confessed to his crime which involved the kidnapping, rape, torture and murder, by live burial, of a teenage girl. If anyone deserved the ultimate penalty, it was Lockett.

Lockett's botched execution caused lawyers to redouble efforts to spare other inmates from a similar fate. Part of the problem is the supply of drugs used to execute inmates. European suppliers of the lethal drugs have refused to sell them in cases where they may be used for executions and this has led to states seeking new formulas to carry out their procedures.

Earlier this week, Missouri officials had to call off the execution of Russell Bucklew, 46, a convicted murderer. Bucklew's lawyers successfully petitioned the Supreme Court to halt his execution claiming that he too could face a painful and gruesome death, similar to Lockett, as a result of a medical condition.

Bucklew has been diagnosed with a rare congenital condition known as cavernous hemangioma, which causes deformation of veins in the face and head. The concern was that a vein could rupture preventing the execution from working at all and Bucklew could survive with a permanent disability, or he could die slowly and painfully. Both outcomes are inconsistent with the concept of dispensing lawful justice as it is currently understood in the United States.

Few people have any kind of sympathy or even empathy for most of the inmates sentenced to death. Many have committed gruesome crimes including murder and rape. From a retributive standpoint it can be argued that they deserve their fate. It can also be argued that there is nothing in the Constitution that requires executions to be painless. After all, historically, executions at least involve a modicum of pain because they induce fatal trauma and death isn't instant.

As far as pain goes, the electric chair may be among the most painful forms of execution. Although an initial jolt of electricity is supposed to stun or render a victim unconscious, many tales of botched or partially-botched executions have surrounded the electric chair. It is very likely extremely painful although none have lived to complain. Despite the anecdotes and stories, some Americans have little regard for this trivia, since they believe retribution is the highest value in these cases. 

Some might say, "so what if a heinous criminal suffers a little pain on their way to divine judgment?"

However, the moral concerns being raised by others is well justified. The concerns raised about the use of capital punishment are numerous.

Innocence projects have demonstrated that a solid, possibly even a double-digit percentage of death-row inmates, are actually innocent of the crimes that landed them there. Although the figure is a distinct minority, it is still one too many. No innocent person should suffer a state-sanctioned death.

Execution is final. A posthumous exoneration provides no substantial relief. A policy of capital punishment simply perpetuates this danger and is compunded by the evil of a possible execution of an innocent person. .

Furthermore, others argue that execution cuts short the lifespan of a person, reducing the time they have to repent and reform their lives; doing penance for their evil actions. 

Then, there are other serious issues which merit consideration in any analysis of capital punishment. The disparity in its application. For example, it has been noted that a racial bias appears to be present in American death penalty cases.

Finally, the Catholic Church, which speaks with an informed, authoritative voice on moral issues such as these, tells us that capital punishment is no longer necessary because the perpetrator is not a threat to the common good and bloodless means of punishment not only are available but are more humane. The current approach to executions perpetuates the disrespect we have for life, a disrespect which reaches back to the womb. Even a convicted felon has human dignity. 

The moral analysis applied to the issue of capital punishment is a decidedly different one than the analysis applied to the evil of procured abortion. Procured abortion is the taking of innocent human life and is always and everywhere wrong. It is intrinsically evil. Capital punishment has been accepted by the Church in times past as necessary to protect the public and within the purview of the State. That is no longer the case because bloodless means of punishment are available.

Certainly the vast majority of these convicted criminals deserve severe punishment, even if the intended process is inconvenient of painful. However, "deserve" has nothing to do with the moral analysis. Mercy should trump strict justice when other means of punishment, such as life in prison, are available.

We can and should rise above the ranks of criminals and their evil misdeeds. In fact, we should  treat those we must remove from society with greater mercy and compassion than they showed their victims. This can sometimes cause victim's advocates to cry foul, and understandably so. However, vengeance belongs to God, not man. When the Justice system has removed a guilty person from perpetuating evil against others, and administered just punishment as a consequence of their evil act, the state has fulfilled its most basic obligation, even if going farther would be more popular.

We must remove criminally evil and dangerous people from society. But we should also attempt to help them reform their lives. This is a proper task of Civil Government. However, the work of life and death belongs to God, not man. When man takes such work upon himself he can end up perpetuating more evil. Examples are procured abortion and unjust wars. 

We should recall the example of Saint Pope John Paul II who visited his would-be assassin in prison and forgave him. Many of us do not have that personal strength to do that, but we are called to try anyway. The Catholic Catechism, citing the Papl Encyclical Letter of St John Paul II entitled, "The Gospel of Life" (Evangelium Vitae), explaims the current teaching of the Catholic Church regarding the death penalty:

Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically non-existent." (CCC #2267)

This admonition is not only the teaching of the Catholic Church, it simply makes good sense in our day and age. It was Ghandi who is credited with saying that "an eye for an eye makes us all blind."

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for September 2014
Mentally disabled:
That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.



Comments


More U.S.

A political warning against high taxes: Northest losses 40% of its House seats Watch

Image of High taxes have dropped the population of 11 Northeastern states dramatically, cutting their number of seats in the House of Representatives by 40% since 1950.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Census Bureau has reported that the Northeast is losing power in the U.S. as many citizens leave the high-tax region, heading south or west to states with lesser tax burdens. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Population growth has shifted, primarily to the ... continue reading


Is Ebola here to stay? Second patient being monitored for Ebola in Dallas Watch

Image of The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had confirmed earlier this week that a patient at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas was the first person to be diagnosed in the U.S. with the Ebola virus.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A second person who had been in close contact with a person infected with Ebola is now being closely monitored in Dallas. Health officials here are treating the situation here with great seriousness, as this is the first example of an Ebola-infected person ... continue reading


How Can We Overcome Fear? Watch

Image of Perhaps we are no longer as crippled by our fears as we were when we were younger, but they still lurk in the background, robbing our freedom and preventing our human flourishing. They harm our relationships and can impede our growth.We can be set free!

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Unable to overcome fear by our own effort, we are often overcome by it. Though we may develop coping mechanisms over time, or learn to hide the interior reactions caused by fear, inside, it can paralyze us and impede us from living our lives to the full. The ... continue reading


'Political correctness' could have cost lives in White House Security breach Watch

Image of It was later revealed that the fence-jumper made it all the way to the East Room of the White House, on the second floor.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"Political correctness" is a hot-button term that has come to mean irrelevance as applied to any given situation. According to Representative Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah), who sits on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, "political correctness" ... continue reading


Watch out Saudi Arabia! U.S. oil production expected to rapidly increase Watch

Image of A Saudi Arabian oil refinery.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The International Energy Agency says that U.S. production of petroleum is set to exceed that of Saudi Arabia's for the first time since 1991. A growing sign of the future of the American energy sector. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The production of oil and ... continue reading


Latinos run from Obama en mass after president punts immigration reform Watch

Image of Latino activists have turned their back on President Obama after he dropped immigration reform until the midterm election.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Barack Obama has bowed to worried Senate Democrats, delaying executive actions on immigration until after the midterm elections, fearing that using executive actions would make immigration reform a partisan issue which would hurt Democrats. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


As thousands of illegals enter U.S., who's stuck with the education bill? Watch

Image of Tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors have flooded into the U.S. during 2014 alone, mostly from South America. While they await immigration trials, schools are responsible for teaching them.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The large numbers of unaccompanied minors who have been illegally crossing into the U.S. from Mexico in ever greater numbers have caused American schools to scramble in an attempt to provide services. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The children and teens who ... continue reading


St. Michael the Archangel, Defend Us in Battle: Pope Francis Takes on the Devil Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Now the new People of God is the Church. That is the reason she considers him her protector and support in all her struggles for the defense and expansion of the kingdom of God on earth. It is true that "the powers of death shall not prevail", as the Lord assured ... continue reading


Need milk? Eggs or flower? The Post Office may have you covered Watch

Image of Amazon partnered with the USPS to provide daily grocery deliveries to people in the San Francisco Bay area, a program the USPS wants to extend to the rest of the country.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The U.S. Postal Service has revealed a new plan to reverse its six-year streak of billion-dollar losses, which is as ingenious as it is simple. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The USPS wants to deliver your groceries to you, and the agency sent this proposal to ... continue reading


Where the buffalo roam... Native Americans plan return of free range Bison on the American Great Plains Watch

Image of Bison calves are playful and eager to roam free.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Buffalo are part of the American west. Across the vast prairies of the Great Plains, herds grazed and migrated, crisscrossing the open grasslands in great, thundering tides. Each year, some of these buffalo were hunted by Native Americans who used everything, from ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Exodus 23:20-23
20 'Look, I am sending an angel to precede you, to ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 91:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 10-11
1 You who live in the secret place of Elyon, spend ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 18:1-5, 10
1 At this time the disciples came to Jesus and said, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 2nd, 2014 Image

St. Leger
October 2: Leger was raised at the court of King Clotaire II and by his ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter