Misplaced Mercy In Arizona Execution Drama

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  • Jeff Crouere
    Jeff Crouere is a native of New Orleans, LA and he is the host of a Louisiana based program, “Ringside Politics."
By Jeff Crouere, CP Op-ed Contributor
July 25, 2014|5:11 pm

The state of Arizona executed double murderer Joseph Wood this week. The convicted killer was injected with a combination of lethal drugs that eventually caused his death; however, it took too long according to some observers.

After being administered the drugs, Wood lingered for almost two hours before dying. Witnesses included reporter Troy Hayden who said the execution was "botched" and that Wood's last words were similar to "a fish on shore gulping for air."

While Hayden complained that the execution was "very disturbing to watch," U.S. Senator John McCain noted that it was "terrible" and amounted to "torture."

During the long ordeal, Wood's attorneys unsuccessfully petitioned the U.S. District Court in Arizona for a "stay of execution" claiming that the drugs caused "cruel and unusual punishment."

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer noted that Wood died in a "lawful manner" in contrast to the "gruesome, vicious suffering that he inflicted on his two victims." Nevertheless, she ordered an investigation into the "process" used in this execution.

Not surprisingly, media critics and opponents of the death penalty did not waste any time in seizing on the incident. They claimed it was another reason why the United States should join other "civilized nations" and ban all executions.

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On the contrary, civilized nations should executive murderers for one major reason. When regularly conducted and publicized, executions serve as a deterrent to other criminals and save the lives of innocent people.

Unfortunately, the process today is ludicrous as justice is delayed for decades in many cases. For example, Wood brutally killed his girlfriend and her father in 1989. The family members of these victims have been waiting 25 years for justice, an obscene delay.

In the United States criminal justice system today, there are too many appeals and too many delays in how executions are administered. After a conviction on death penalty charges and all appeals have been lost, a criminal should be swiftly executed, not given decades of taxpayer paid housing, food, clothing and legal representation.

The other serious flaw in the current system is the misplaced concern for the convict and the lack of consideration for the victim and the surviving family members.

In recent years, our society has become more worried about the criminals. Thus, more "humane" forms of execution have been used. Gone are the firing squad, the hanging at the public square and even the electric chair.

Today, almost all states use lethal injection as the preferred form of execution. Yet, as pharmaceutical companies have refused to supply the needed drugs, corrections officials have been forced to utilize creative drug combinations that lead to a longer survival period after injection.

The cry from liberal activists is to stop the "bungled executions," but this infuriates the family members of victims.

Jeanne Brown, who had two family members killed by Wood, said "You don't know what excruciating is….what's excruciating is seeing your dad laying there in a pool of blood, seeing your sister laying there in a pool of blood. This man deserved it."

He deserved death and was lucky that he was able to prepare for his death and have twenty-five years as a prison inmate, with all of his expenses paid by the taxpayers, to continue his life. Jeanne Brown's family members were not as fortunate as Wood killed them with no warning or consideration.

This public outrage is misplaced and inappropriate. If convicted killers die painful deaths due to lethal injection, it should not be a national tragedy.

What is a tragedy is that it takes too long for our country's criminal justice system to dispense justice.

When justice is delayed, it is denied, and that is the only tragedy worth discussing.

Jeff Crouere is a native of New Orleans, LA and he is the host of a Louisiana based program, "Ringside Politics," which airs at 7:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:00 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and 7 till 11 a.m. weekdays on WGSO 990 AM in New Orleans and the Northshore. For more information, visit his web site at www.ringsidepolitics.com. E-mail him at jeff@ringsidepolitics.com.
 

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