Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

5/23/2014 (6 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 (6 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 November 2014
Lonely people:
That all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of God and the support of others.
Mentors of seminarians and religious: That young seminarians and religious may have wise and well-formed mentors.



Comments


More U.S.

Fr. Randy Sly on Thanksgiving and Our Roots of Faith

Image of Ceremonies and periods of thanksgiving are woven through the entire tapestry of history. We find them in the Jewish Calendar of Feasts, in other world religions, in European cultures and native practices of North America, South America, Asia and Africa.

By Fr. Randy Sly

Thanksgiving Day has become a time when we watch parades and then take in large amounts of food and football. According to some calculations, 46 million turkeys-around 550 million pounds-will be consumed during Thanksgiving this year. But that's not how it began! ... continue reading


Thanksgiving Day: We are Still One Nation - Under God Watch

Image of The sincere sentiments expressed by this extraordinary leader, George Washington, should inform our response to all of the challenges we face today in the United States of America. We are still one Nation - under God. They should also inspire us to pray for great leaders to emerge in this our great hour of need. Leaders who can help us see this as an hour of opportunity and an invitation to reaffirm our reliance on God.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

This week the people of the United States of America struggle to find a way through the trauma we are experiencing in the wake of the riots in Ferguson, Missouri. Too many self-appointed "experts" seem all too eager to tell us what divides us. However, even in ... continue reading


Following Ferguson shooting, police departments rush to adopt body cameras Watch

Image of The purchasing of body cameras by police departments nationwide has increased dramatically following the shooting of Michael Brown.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Whether you believe the story told by Ferguson police officer Daren Wilson, or by the family of Michael Brown, it is certain that the case has changed the face of law enforcement in America. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The use of body cameras by police ... continue reading


Catholic Shopping .com is about to have its biggest sale ever for Black Friday weekend!

Image of Sign up so you don't miss any deals during this special Black Friday weekend sale!

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

This weekend, Catholic Shopping .com is having an amazing sale with up to 70% off of selected items. These deep discounts will help you finish your shopping early, but be prepared, many of these sales will last just an hour or two and then the specials will be gone! ... continue reading


A Boston man has something new to be thankful for after he received a double arm transplant Watch

Image of Will Lautzenheiser, a professor of film production and screenwriting at Boston University had to undergo surgery to remove his arms and legs in 2011 after he came down with a life-threatening streptococcal infection.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Boston man who received a double arm transplant in October is making remarkable recovery, just in time for Thanksgiving. The best part, he says, is that he is able to hug his loved ones again. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Will Lautzenheiser became infected ... continue reading


Dreaded cartel overlord Alfredo Vasquez-Hernandez sentenced to 22 years in prison in U.S. Watch

Image of Top Sinaloa cartel thug Alfredo Vasquez-Hernandez has been sentenced to 22 years in prison in the U.S. for planning the delivery of more than 600 pounds of cocaine.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Top Sinaloa cartel thug Alfredo Vasquez-Hernandez has been sentenced to 22 years in prison in the U.S. for planning the delivery of more than 600 pounds of cocaine. Some of the damning evidence against him was provided by twin brothers Pedro and Margarito ... continue reading


Here's 3,000 reasons why Obama just made illegal immigrants more attractive to your employer Watch

Image of Due to a loophole in Obamacare, the president's new amnesty plans mean that employers who hire illegals don't have to cover them with insurance, and won't be fined for doing so.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Obama's new amnesty plan is going to have some drastic effects that most American's aren't aware of, one that may just get you kicked out of a job because of all things, Obamacare. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Under the Affordable Care Act, ... continue reading


Acknowledging Unknown Soldier over known soldiers: Over 1.2 million veterans lack health insurance Watch

Image of As a culture, many of us feel more comfortable honoring the tomb of the Unknown Soldier --

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As many leave laurels at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the United States refuses to acknowledge the health and benefits of known soldiers. While most people assume that veterans automatically receive health care coverage through the Veterans Health ... continue reading


Ferguson in flames as policeman who shot, killed teenager found not guilty Watch

Image of Police claimed they came under heavy automatic weapon fire. Some buildings were left to burn because of the danger.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

People have responded to violence - with violence. After Police Officer Darren Wilson was been cleared of all charges in the shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown in August. His surrounding community of Ferguson, Missouri has responded with widespread ... continue reading


Priest in Ferguson reports deep mistrust between groups fueling tension Watch

Image of Police in Ferguson move detain a protester.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Catholic priest assigned to Ferguson, MO, spoke with Vatican Radio about the "festering" mistrust between the populace and police. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Vatican Radio shared an interview with Fr. Arthur Cavitt, a parish priest who was asked about the ... 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, Revelation 20:1-4, 11--21:2
1 Then I saw an angel come down from heaven with the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 84:3, 4, 5-6, 8
3 Even the sparrow has found a home, the swallow a ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 21:29-33
29 And he told them a parable, 'Look at the fig tree ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 28th, 2014 Image

St. Catherine Laboure
November 28: St. Catherine Laboure, virgin, was born on May 2, 1806. At an ... 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