Monday, December 18, 2006

Death penalty babble

Death penalty babble

Palm Beach Post Editorial

Friday, December 15, 2006

Who cares if he "suffered?" His victim suffered, so why shouldn't he? And he's dying, for crying out loud. How can you have dying without suffering?

That will be a common reaction to the news that Florida still can't figure out how to kill people efficiently. Wednesday's execution of Angel Diaz took 34 minutes, about twice as long as usual, and required a second dose of lethal drugs. In petitioning the Supreme Court to stay his execution, Diaz had argued that use of the chemicals violated the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Yes, that's an ironic argument, coming from a murderer. But because Florida has the death penalty, odd comments are the rule, whether from the state or the condemned. Sounding vaguely like an insurance agent, Gretl Plessinger of the Florida Department of Corrections explained that Diaz required the second dose because of a preexisting liver condition. He couldn't process the lethal drugs. Ms. Plessinger also concluded that Diaz didn't feel any pain. How would she know?

So, Gov. Bush announced that the state will review its execution procedures, just as the state reviewed them in 1997 after a botched electrocution that led to the switch to lethal injection.

Compared to the death penalty, a maximum sentence of life without possibility of parole is cheaper - fewer costly, taxpayer-financed appeals - swifter - Diaz committed his crime in 1979 - and safer, since it means that the state never will kill the wrong person. Florida leads the nation in exonerations from Death Row.

And in trying to defend itself, the state would sound a lot less bizarre.

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