01/25/07 — Eye for an eye? Death penalty question this time is about ‘painless’ death

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Eye for an eye? Death penalty question this time is about ‘painless’ death

The time to talk about the validity of the death penalty is not when inmates sue the state to stop their executions because officials cannot guarantee they will die painlessly.

So, the issue to discuss right now about 33-year-old Marcus Robinson’s petition to the U.S. Supreme Court to stop his execution is whether we care whether he dies painlessly or not.

And he is not the only one. Another inmate, 51-year-old James Edward Thomas, also scheduled to die, has also joined the lawsuit.

Robinson is answering for a 1991 robbery and murder, while Thomas’s sentence comes after his guilty verdict in a slaying and sexual assault.

Both men say there were extenuating circumstances that make their cases different — but that is not what this petition concerns.

In the wake of a recent Florida execution gone wrong, which left the inmate in question in pain, they want to make sure their deaths are pain-free.

Forget the “death penalty — right or wrong” debate. That is for another time. Right now, these inmates want to know how much protection we want to give them from a painful death.

And while we want to be compassionate and forgiving like it says in the Bible, most North Carolinians probably would answer that petition with the following statement: “About as much concern as you gave the victims whose lives you took.”

Maybe it is time to be a little bit tougher on criminals and a little less willing to negotiate on how to punish them. Maybe if they get the message that the best way to avoid dealing with the criminal justice system is to stay out of it — we might have a few more people thinking before they pull a trigger.

There is some benefit to talking about the death penalty — and if we want to continue it in North Carolina. But right now this is a bit about making sure justice is done in a timely manner. And it is time.

Published in Editorials on January 25, 2007 10:48 AM