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WHAT OTHERS SAY: Missouri needs a better form of justice than executions

Monday, January 13, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CST

Missouri’s latest arrangement for executing inmates is indefensible.

After nearly causing an international incident with attempts to carry out executions using a foreign-made anesthetic , the Department of Corrections contracted with an out-of-state compounding pharmacy to produce a different death drug.

Two prisoners were executed late last year with pentobarbital, a sedative used by veterinarians to euthanize animals. Corrections officials refused to say where they obtained the drug. But St. Louis Public Radio and an online newspaper, the Beacon, traced its origin to a compounding pharmacy in Oklahoma.

The pharmacy is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or registered in Missouri. Under state law, an unlicensed pharmacy cannot sell drugs in Missouri. But apparently the administration of Gov. Jay Nixon thinks of itself as a customer above the law.

The governor and corrections officials are on thin ice. Neither the FDA nor the Missouri Board of Pharmacy have jurisdiction to oversee the pharmacy or the quality of its project. A faulty drug could violate the U.S. Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Missouri leaders have exerted a good deal of energy trying unsuccessfully to find a suitable protocol for executions. But, unlike in some other states, they haven’t gotten around to a serious discussion on ending the death penalty.

It is time for a moratorium, at least. Missouri has seen falsely convicted inmates released from death row. Death sentences are costly and unproductive as a deterrent.

For those reasons and more, public opinion is shifting away from the death penalty. Missouri needs to stop breaking its own laws and consider a wiser form of justice.

Copyright The Kansas City Star. Reprinted with permission.


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Comments

Michael Williams January 13, 2014 | 7:19 a.m.

Whether to have a death penalty is an ethical argument....we, as a State, either believe the death penalty is an OK thing, or we don't.

The argument should have no merits other than an ethical one......is it a right or is it a wrong thing to do?

In this case, opponents cannot get their way (i.e., no death penalty) via the ethical argument, so they try to achieve the same end result by shoving the argument down others' throats with side-arguments and a nodding judiciary. They do this NOT by trying to convince on the merits of rightness or wrongness; instead, the argument becomes......

The source of the drug?
The chemistry of the drug?
The method of execution?
A law that says an unlicensed pharmacy cannot sell drugs?

Our US Constitution does forbid cruel and unusual punishment. Whether the death penalty is cruel or unusual is an ethical argument subject to citizen wishes and desires. It's the only legitimate argument presented in this article. Everything else is a red-herring and an attempted shove-down-your-throat.

Or, you could call it an "end around" if you're looking for other metaphors.

We citizens fall for this kind of rhetorical crap on a daily basis.

I wish we citizens would recognize this strategy more often. These kinds of hidden or diverted agendas is how we become a manipulated people........

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