Oct 19, 2007

A problem of execution

A problem of execution

Consider the source and the audience

This article was in the Austin American Statesman on October 12, 2007. The author was Ellen Goodman, a writer for The Boston Globe. This argument is addressed toward the general public. In this argument, Goodman used the fact that the issue is high profile, with many mixed feelings. This does not affect the content of the article. This article appears in the newspaper because the author wants as many people as possible to read and learn about the issue.

Lay out the argument and the underlying values and assumptions

In this article, the issue is not about if the death penalty is “cruel and unusual punishment,” but only whether lethal injection is cruel and unusual. In making the argument, Goodman assumes that the reader has basic knowledge of the Constitution of the United States of America. This article pertains to the how the execution process, not the constitutionality of the death penalty. Terms like “cruel and unusual punishment” are defined by the rest of the world as the death penalty, but in America it is defined as things such as drawing and quartering, flaying, and other such things that Europe was doing at the time the Constitution was written.

Uncover the evidence

In this article, the method of lethal injection is being discussed because it is relevant to the public. A clear reason is because two death row inmates in Kentucky currently have a case in the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), where they are testing to see if lethal injection is cruel and unusual. There is a cocktail of three drugs used to perform an execution. The first causes the prisoner to sleep. The second drug paralyzes the person. The third drug stops the person’s heart from beating. The author states that this description does not explain the situation if the first drug fails to work. Goodman states that we would not let the executioners cook a hamburger, but the real issue here is how merciful do we want capital punishment? How merciless? In our society we want criminals to be punished, but we do not want to inflict pain, cruelty, or death.

Evaluate the conclusion

The conclusion is that the country is tinkering with the dosage and the training. It is tinkering with the competence and mistakes to avoid the possibility of losing the death penalty to keep our humanity. If SCOTUS decides that lethal injection is cruel and unusual, then eleven states will be required to find a different way of administering the death penalty. Firing squad is a possibility, but lethal injection seems to be the cleanest and easiest way to administer the death penalty.

The information can be found in A problem of execution

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