Truly cruel and unusual?
Regarding the June 30 front-page article “Supreme Court narrowly allows execution drug”:
When I read that Oklahoma death row inmates have challenged the use of midazolam because its use “has resulted in troubling executions” that violate the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, I nearly fell off of my chair. Midazolam is an anti-anxiety benzodiazepine, chemically very similar to Ativan, Xanax and Valium, except that it’s usually administered intravenously rather than orally. I’ve had many bronchoscopies and have been given midazolam prior to every one of them to induce sedation. It creates a feeling of euphoria, which is probably more enjoyable than any drug I tried when I was in college 40 years ago. I’m sure that any prison inmate would love to spend his entire sentence high on midazolam. Two thumbs up to the Supreme Court for getting it right and allowing states the option of using this drug when carrying out executions.
Michael A. Mobley, Bethesda
Although I do believe in at least the threat of capital punishment, I do not believe in the practice of cruel and unusual punishment, which is what “inmates writhing in pain or taking hours to die” sounds like. The Supreme Court ruling in favor of continuing the use of midazolam in the execution of Oklahoma inmates is an outrage. I don’t care how narrow the ruling; we all are implicated in the court’s decision that added suffering is constitutional.
An actual Supreme Court justice dismissing contradictory arguments as “gobbledy-gook” is just one clear sign of the outdated nature of this panel’s lineage and thereby raises the question as to whether enjoying a lifetime job with such an esteemed degree of power has bred its own measure of criminality. This issue isn’t about our society’s right to exact capital punishment, as Justice Clarence Thomas so erroneously stated, but rather about the United States’ continued usage and pardoning of a punishment that many are indeed calling cruel and unusual.
Glenn Steven Williams Jr., Cheltenham