Why are we squeamish about executions?

(KPLR) – In Wednesday’s Jacology, Charles Jaco looks at the death penalty.

In Genesis, the Lord says the Cain, what have you done? Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. About the same time Genesis was written, the Babylonian King Hammurabi listed twenty-five crimes that carried the death penalty, including adultery and helping a slave escape. Humans have a long history with executions. In ancient times it was retribution. In the last couple of centuries, we became more squeamish, and said it was a deterrent. And now we’re talking about executions again.

This is because we now use lethal injection in most states, including Missouri. Lethal injections use drugs. Drugs are created by medical and scientific personnel to save lives. So more and more doctors and pharmacies and drug companies are objecting to their products being used to execute someone. In Missouri, a shortage of execution drugs led the state to want to use a drug produced in Eutrope. But the Europeans said if it was used to kill someone, they would stop shipping it to U.S. hospitals.

So Missouri turned to a so-called compounding pharmacy in Oklahoma, which made the drug cocktail to order. The state of Missouri paid them in cash, and kept the pharmacy’s name secret. But it became public, so that pharmacy will no longer supply execution drugs. One Missouri lawmaker got a lot of attention proposing we bring back the firing squad. All of which shows our complicated relationship with the government taking someone’s life.

The last Gallup Poll shows sixty percent of Americans support the death penalty. Respondents say some crimes, like murdering children should result in death as punishment, not as a deterrent. The Missouri man to be executed next week raped and murdered a 15 year old. So while most people say in theory someone like that should die, we still seem uncomfortable about how the government does it.

I’m Charles Jaco, and that’s Jacology.

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Email: charles.jaco@tvstl.com

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