Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

5/23/2014 (2 years 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 (2 years 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'


Copyright 2016 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for May 2016
Universal:
Respect for Women: That in every country of the world, women may be honored and respected and that their essential contribution to society may be highly esteemed.
Evangelization: Holy Rosary: That families, communities, and groups may pray the Holy Rosary for evangelization and peace.



Comments


More U.S.

The Visitation Continues. Learning to Evangelize from Mary Watch

Image of The visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth

By Deacon Keith Fournier

In the Biblical account, this encounter immediately follows the visit of the Angel Gabriel to Mary and is a fruit of her humble obedient response to the word of God - which she was most certainly attuned to hearing. That response was not a onetime reaction. It ... continue reading


Corpus Christi, The Feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus Watch

Image of There is also an ancient and beautiful custom in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church called the Corpus Christi procession. The consecrated Host, the Body of the Lord, is reposed in what is called a monstrance. The term is derived from a Latin phrase which means to show or reveal.  The faithful process the Body of the Lord through the streets surrounding their church buildings. This Eucharistic procession can be a powerful witness to an age which has lost its sense of the sacred.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

We have received the Bread of Heaven. Let us choose to become what we consume. These Feasts are not just rituals on a Church calendar. They are invitations to encounter the Lord Jesus Christ, and then offer Him to a world waiting to be born anew. On this Feast of ... continue reading


Memorial Day: Honor Those Who Have Given Their Lives in Military Service Watch

Image of Memorial Day

By Deacon Keith Fournier

I live in Chesapeake, a wonderful city in Southeastern Virginia where there are many members of the military. The parish I serve is an example of this. Every day, I witness the many sacrifices which military families make for our Nation. On this Memorial Day, I ... continue reading


$3,600,000,000,000: the price to repair America Watch

Image of America's infrastructure is in need of improvement. Why isn't this a national priority?

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

We have money for perpetual war and can afford generous foreign aid, tax subsidies and cuts for the wealthy, but we cannot find the money to fix a pothole or repair a collapsing bridge. This is the sorry state of affairs U.S. infrastructure is in as we let the nation ... continue reading


Violent riot erupts at Trump rally in New Mexico Watch

Image of Unsurprisingly, a Trump rally erupted into a riot in New Mexico (Reuters).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Protesters at Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's New Mexico rally erupted in violent acts including the attempted stoning of police, glass bottles thrown at mounted units and their horses, burning shirts and more. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Record-breaking 38,000 illegal aliens apprehended in the month of April Watch

Image of April 2016 reaches new record for illegal alien apprehensions.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Illegal aliens continue to surge into the United States from the Southwest U.S. border, leading the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) units to announce record-breaking apprehensions in April, 2016. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to the U.S. ... continue reading


Edward Nero, arresting officer of Freddie Gray, NOT GUILTY. Will Baltimore erupt once more? Watch

Image of Officer Edward Nero arrives at court. Nero has been acquitted of crimes in the death of Freddie Gray.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The arresting officer in the Freddie Gray case, Edward Nero, has been declared "not guilty" by the judge in his criminal trial. Now, the community waits to see if violence will erupt or if the streets will remain quiet. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Officer ... continue reading


Tell Me About the Trinity: Honoring Jerry and Plumbing the Mystery of God Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

'The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential ... continue reading


Father Frank Pavone on Father Daniel Berrigan's Pro-Life Activism Watch

Image of Fr. Daniel Berrigan

By Fr Frank Pavone

Father Berrigan was a radical figure who sent a total of almost seven years in prison.  What many don't realize though is that his activism extended beyond the anti-war movement and into the anti-abortion movement. Believing in what he called a consistent ... continue reading


Law allows persons to sue if you don't use the correct pronoun out of 58 to describe a person's sexual identity Watch

Image of We're going to need a lot more restrooms.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Under a new law, businesses in New York will be fined if they don't use a person's preferred pronoun when referring to them. This especially becomes a problem when it is understood there are at least 58 possible pronouns with at least five grammatical variations ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • Advent Prayer HD Video
  • St. Mechtildis: Saint of the Day for Tuesday, May 31, 2016
  • Snowden refuses to stand trial despite Eric Holder's claim the ...
  • Daily Readings for Tuesday, May 31, 2016
  • Liberal California Rep. has meltdown after famed Civil Rights ...
  • The Visitation Continues. Learning to Evangelize from Mary
  • Daily Reading for Wednesday, June 1st, 2016 HD Video

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Zephaniah 3:14-18,
14 Shout for joy, daughter of Zion, Israel, shout aloud! Rejoice, exult ... Read More

Psalm, Isaiah 12:2-3, 4, 5-6
2 Look, he is the God of my salvation: I shall have faith and not be ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 1:39-56
39 Mary set out at that time and went as quickly as she could into the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 31st, 2016 Image

St. Mechtildis
May 31: Benedictine abbess and miracle worker. She was ... Read More