05/01/06 — Opinion - Painless executions

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Opinion - Painless executions

By Gene Price
Published in News on May 1, 2006 1:46 PM

Thousands of dollars in legal fees and court time were spent recently on the issue of whether a convicted murderer's execution could be administered painlessly.

Willie Brown was convicted of kidnapping and killing convenience store clerk Vallerie Robertson Dixon almost 25 years ago.

He took $90 from the cash register, forced the woman to accompany him down a logging road and then shot her six times.

It had taken the state a quarter of a century to work its laborious way down the "long green mile" leading to the death chamber.

Then there was more stalling.

North Carolina long ago abandoned the electric chair. "Old sparky" was viewed as too cruel. Then the gas chamber became objectionable. Today, those on death row can choose lethal injection. One shot puts the candidate to sleep before the real McCoy is administered.

But wait, wailed attorneys for the murderer. How could they know the initial sedative had worked sufficiently before the lethal dose was applied.

A federal judge mulled that over for 10 days. He finally said Willie Brown could be executed -- but only if medically trained professionals were standing by to ensure he wouldn't experience any pain!

That's right: It was OK to kill Willie Brown -- so long as they didn't hurt him.

In this era of being overly concerned about the comfort and well-being of convicted murderers, rapists and terrorists, perhaps we need to take stock.

Let's crank the victims into the final disposition.

Rather than hold the state to making sure it doesn't "hurt" those it executes, let's simply instruct the executioners not to subject the murderers to any more agony than was inflicted on their victims.

And since when is punishment supposed to be painless?


F.Y.I.: In this column last week, we mentioned a Seven Springs High School 1963 class ring with initials S.R.P. -- lost 40 years ago on a drag strip. Ms. Francis Champion was trying to find the owner. Shortly after the column appeared, the owner called and now has the ring. She did not want to be identified.