Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Execution Will Not Be Televised

An op-ed in the Sunday Review of the New York Times argued that executions should be televised.  According to the authors, "a functioning democracy demands maximum accountability and transparency."  They believe that "people should have the right to see what is being done in their name and with their tax dollars."  I respectfully disagree and submitted the following letter to the editor (which was not published):
Lethal injection is specifically designed to sanitize a barbarous act.  Indeed, one of the drugs given is a paralytic whose sole purpose is to mask excruciating pain the inmate would exhibit if the first drug used to cause unconsciousness fails to work effectively.  I fear that televising executions would provide an additional filter that would fail to convey the truly horrific nature of the death penalty.  I am still haunted by an execution I witnessed as a defense lawyer a dozen years ago even though it appeared to go smoothly.  I can vividly recall the nervous energy in the small room, the smells, the sounds, and the eery silence.  The intensity of the experience had far less to do with what I saw – which was not so different from watching someone fall asleep – as it was being in such close proximity to the intentional killing of a fellow human being. 


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