As many of you know, Wisconsin had a referendum campaign to bring back the death penalty in 2006. Although the referendum barely passed, it was only advisory and it should not get through the legislature or the governor's office. The death penalty in Wisconsin is on the back burner and it should be left there forever...
That does not mean that anti-death penalty advocates should sit on their laurels in Wisconsin! The death penalty needs to be abolished in this country for good. It is cruel and unusual punishment as evidenced by the general concensus of the international community. Only the most dangerous regimes in the world continue to kill their own citizens...
I have 20 more reasons the death penalty is really bad, from inequities and failures in our justice system to the cost to the state, but one in particular is a myth that cannot be overlooked.
Most disturbing is that in the US, we continue to believe that for some reason killing someone by chemically paralyzing them and stopping their heart is somehow "less cruel". It is not.
Many lethal injections are "botched". This term is a bit of an oxymoron in this case since the point is to kill, but lethal injection is tricky at best. The American Medical Association forbids doctors from participating (First do no harm...) and this leaves the job to untrained prison personnel. Different weights and tolerances to medications makes it a guessing game for untrained people to figure out how much of each medication to give and a process that at most should take 5 to 10 mins has in many cases taken 45 minutes to an hour with the victim screaming for mercy and that "it hurts"...
I'm writing this to thank Senator Feingold for making this statement. It's important that we as a society move away from revenge, an emotion that is only destructive, and towards reconciliation and forgiveness. This does not mean that people who do really bad things cannot or should not be removed from society for part or all of their lives, but it does mean that as a society, we should be better than their horrible actions not stoop to their level. Most faiths teach this. Most of us teach this to our children.
Senator Feingold has been a leader on this issue and it's time for the Congress to act on his proposed legislation. We should not leave this to the courts, they may or may not rule on the side of life. Democrats, Independents and Republicans in Congress should be able to come to the table on this though and get something done in 2008. Something that would show the world that it IS a new day in America and that real change is in the air.
Statement of U.S. Senator Russ FeingoldOn the Supreme Court Case on the Constitutionality of Lethal Injection
January 7, 2008
"As the Supreme Court effectively halts executions nationwide to consider the constitutionality of lethal injection, we should take the opportunity to address just how deeply flawed the implementation of capital punishment in this country is. Racial disparities, convictions based on bad evidence, and grossly inadequate indigent defense systems are among the compelling reasons why state-sponsored executions have no place in a nation based on equal justice under the law. The recent abolition of the death penalty in New Jersey and the American Bar Association's call for a nationwide moratorium are positive signs of increasing support for ending the death penalty."
Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), a longtime opponent of capital punishment, is the author of S.447 - the Federal Death Penalty Abolition Act.# # #