Hot Potato: Food for Thought
This Won't Hurt a Bit
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
1997 August 13

The death penalty in its current form imposes a macabre cruelty on those who are to be executed. As the appeals process continues, the inmate is regularly confronted with scheduled execution dates. Stays of execution are routinely granted. Sometimes these stays are only granted when the prisoner is already hooked up to the death machine and is facing what seems to be imminent death.

What kind of torment is it to go through repeated confrontations with death? It is true that most of those on death row have done truly terrible things, but is it just that a government repeatedly terrorizes those who do not know from one day to the next if they are to die?

Yet any attempt to do away with these repeated confrontations with death almost certainly leads to increased chances of killing an innocent person. There does not appear to be any way to stop tormenting prisoners without increasing the chance of making a mistake.

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