In light of recent controversies and serious medication shortages used to carry out lethal injections, Utah has decided to reinstate death by firing squad as a secondary form of execution. Other states have chosen to reinstate similarly used tactics; Tennessee has imposed death by electrocution when necessary drugs are not at hand or are not deemed appropriate as being “cruel or unusual.”
Reported “botched” executions have resulted from not having the right drugs, the right mixtures, or the right dosages, opponents of the death penalty say, which has caused concern that prisoners feel pain as they die, or have “agonal” respirations, which appear to many people that the prisoner is experiencing distress, although science has not proven that to be the case.
With Pope Francis bridging a major divide between Catholics and other Christians in his time as Pope, he has some recent harsh words for the practice of the death penalty that thirty one current states in the U.S. employ. The death penalty is a very divisive issue among the general public, and the Pope taking such a strong stance against it may distance him from those that were otherwise drawn to his leadership. Some even feel his strong stance has overstepped the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church even though it has a staunch “pro life” stance. He spoke in Madrid yesterday about his convictions.
“Today the death penalty is inadmissible, no matter how serious the crime committed. (Capital punishment) contradicts God’s plan for man and society and does not render justice to the victims, but rather fosters vengeance. There is no humane way of killing another person.”
Francis also stated that executing a prisoner can no longer be justified by a society’s need to defend itself, presumably due to high security-prisons. He addressed two issues pertinent in the American context: He stated that the death penalty “loses all legitimacy” because of the possibility of judicial error, which has occurred multiple times throughout U.S. history, and he also added no killing could be accomplished in a humane way.
His statements are a part of Vatican support to abolish the death penalty worldwide as part of the Geneva Convention. Of even higher controversy, Pope France penned in a letter late last year that keeping inmates isolated in maximum security prisons is ‘a form of torture’ and that life sentences are “a hidden death penalty” that should outlawed along with capital punishment.
However, in the wake of such strong statements, there seems to be no adequate substitution given by the Pope for what should be done with dangerous criminals.
Readers, what are your thoughts on this matter?
[Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images]