Capital punishment makes the news mainly when there are questions of discrimination, innocence, gross injustice. It says something about our society that a number of executions quietly proceed on schedule. Clear guilt, heinous crime, these things do not inspire much sympathy or outspoken criticism. There seems to be a certain class of inmate for whom capital punishment is not questioned.
One of these is due to die in Arizona in about an hour.
The story of Thomas Kemp is summed up in this article from today's AZ Daily Star. It's not pretty. There is little question of guilt, and Kemp's lack of remorse inspires little in return. The racist motivation for the murder just makes it worse. The details are shocking and available in the link. I don't see much point in C&Ping them in here. I have no intent to apologize for any of it. I can think of no special reason why such a fellow should be allowed to live.
Except that it's everyone's right to live, and I have no reason to be especially worried that he will ever pose a threat to society again. It isn't necessary to take this man's life in order to keep the community safe. There isn't any demonstrable utility in it. It is demonstrably a financial waste to have pursued this process. It's just short of twenty years since the crimes took place -- any notion of speedy justice was lost decades ago.
There aren't any comments on the Daily Star site, but from experience, I know that if there were, it'd just be a few twits cracking jokes about cheap rope and cutting back on the appeals process. The conservative solution to ineffective capital punishment is to make it cheaper, quicker...more risky. Even if there is no demonstrated effect of deterrence, it is their excuse, to imagine that there could be. Yet they can't imagine ever being on the business end of an unjust execution.
And the criminal justice system is so fraught with injustice, I wonder sometimes if they're right to dismiss the risk...for themselves.
I may be jaded, but I still find it appalling that in this supposedly 'Christian' nation, such a fundamental shift in notions of justice -- from 'eye for an eye' to 'turn the other cheek' -- has so utterly failed to take hold in this country. The justice system is so vengeful. And this unnecessary, useless, unjust practice is perhaps the best example of that craving for vengeance that leads to injustice. The absolute worst kind; the kind for which there is no recompense, once a prisoner has been killed.
Anyway, the next scheduled killing is set for May 16th for one Samuel Lopez. There is a brief mention in the news piece about a "brutal rape and murder". My guess is that it won't merit but a brief mention as well, in a couple of weeks. Just a recitation of the nastier details, something to reassure anyone who gives it any thought at all.
Thomas Arnold Kemp, 63, was given a lethal injection at the state prison in Florence as he lay strapped to a table in the death chamber. His time of death was 10:08 a.m.
The death puts Arizona on pace to match its busiest year for executions and makes it one of the busiest death-penalty states in the nation.
Little late now, but anyway. Although this article is ostensibly about the attorney being disturbed by his client's violent shaking during the execution, the paper makes sure to repeat the crime details again, as if somehow offering apologetics for possible suffering of the condemned.
The attorney for an Arizona death-row inmate executed Wednesday said he was "very disturbed" after seeing his client shake for several seconds upon receiving his lethal injection, and he wants to find out if the man experienced any unnecessary pain.
"It was unmistakable. He was shaking very violently," said Gabrielsen, who has witnessed one other execution. "We're very disturbed by that."
Jonathan Groner, an Ohio State University surgeon who has studied lethal injection extensively, said high doses of pentobarbital are associated with seizures and that may have caused Kemp's shaking.
"The problem is the people that give it are not physicians. They try to push it as fast as possible," Groner said. "It's nothing anyone would do in a hospital or medical center. It's not a very good way to kill people."