Truly cruel and un­usual?

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION -

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

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