Saturday, September 29, 2007

Good for you, Texas

From The New York Times:

HOUSTON, Sept. 28 — A day after the United States Supreme Court halted an execution in Texas at the last minute, Texas officials made clear on Friday that they would nonetheless proceed with more executions in coming months, including one next week.

Though several other states are halting lethal injections until it is clear whether they are constitutional, Texas is taking a different course, risking a confrontation with the court.

“The Supreme Court’s decision to stay convicted murderer Carlton Turner’s execution will not necessarily result in an abrupt halt to Texas executions,” said Jerry Strickland, a spokesman for Attorney General Greg Abbott of Texas. “State and federal courts will continue to address each scheduled execution on a case-by-case basis.”

Shortly before midnight on Thursday, the Supreme Court stayed the execution of Mr. Turner, who had been scheduled to become the 26th Texas inmate executed this year by lethal injection in Huntsville.

Although the court gave no reason for its order, Mr. Turner, convicted of murdering his adoptive parents in 1998, had appealed to the court after it agreed Tuesday to consider the constitutionality of lethal injection, the most commonly used method of execution in the United States.

Several legal experts said the Supreme Court reprieve would be seen by most states as a signal to halt all executions until the court determined, probably some time next year, whether the current chemical formulation used for lethal injections amounts to cruel and unusual punishment barred by the Eighth Amendment.

You know, on the theory that it is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission states might want to start announcing executions after they have been performed rather than before.

Here's a serious suggestion. If the worry is that the current formula for the lethal injection is feared to be "cruel" how about giving the condemned a large overdose of heroin. They would feel a few moments of pure bliss then nothing.

Here is another serious suggestion. Since the method of execution in use at the time the constitution was written and ratified was hanging. We know that after the ratification of the constitution that nobody, no judge, no politician, no legislative body, stepped forward and demanded that hangings stop because they were "cruel and unusual". Therefore hanging becomes the only form of execution which we can know with absolute certainty passes the "no cruel and unusual punishment" test of the constitution. So let's start hanging people again.