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Cruel and Unusual Punishment the New Norm?

Posted on December 8, 2009 at 2:35 PM

U.S. Constitutional Amendment 8 - Cruel and Unusual Punishment


"Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."


In Ohio, this morning, we executed a man using a 1-drug lethal injection as opposed to the usual 3-drug cocktail (one would allegedly cause the person to be paralyzed and be unable to notify if the drug didn't take effect yet, and/or wasn't enough, wasn't working and excruciating pain would follow).  This man probably deserved to die after the way he killed a woman in 1991 and left pieces of that woman in two states (OH and PA); however, the question I pose is this:  is it humane?


We have inalienable rights to not experience cruel and unusual punishment.  I know the victim's family members would surely not care, but most of us are not that victim's relatives so we can pose ourselves this question.


There are 36 death penalty states that use lethal injection presently and it appears except for Ohio all the rest rely on that 3-drug cocktail method. 


Consider this quote:


"Ohio overhauled its procedure after a failed attempt to execute Romell Broom, a procedure halted by Gov. Ted Strickland in September. Executioners tried for two hours to find a suitable vein for injection, hitting bone and muscle in as many as 18 needle sticks that Broom, 53, said were very painful."



How long are these inexperienced executioners allowed to keep trying for  a vein? 


"The execution team tried for several minutes to find usable veins, including inserting needles several times in both arms, before eventually completing the process on just his left arm after about 30 minutes."


If someone had to draw my blood, I think after the first 5 minutes I'd be ready to stick the phlebotomist with the needle myself!



How do we possibly know what pain or not is felt by this 1-drug injection?


Consider this quote:


"After the chemical started flowing at 11:37 a.m., Biros' chest heaved up and down several times, and he moved his head a couple of times over about two minutes before his body stopped moving."



Ohio spent about 5 years searching for a way to limit the doubts surrounding death by lethal injection, but apparently still lacks limits on how long an executioner is allowed to attempt venous injection.   Essentially, as stated in the news source I'm using, this 1-drug method is "'impermissible human experimentation'" entirely. 


So let me go back to the original question:  what is cruel and unusual punishment?  Do death-row inmates still have these inalienable rights?  When is a human life not a human life?  When does cruelty on our end not constitute cruelty against another?  Are we accepting of this denigration to the level of a killer to execute one? 


I've always had a bit of an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach about death penalties.  When my husband was originally indicted, he was indicted on aggravated murder, which carries the death penalty in Ohio.  He is innocent, as I would hope by this point you'd all have read the contents of this website and agree with me at least that there's absolutely reasonable doubt for a murder case surrounding my daughter's death.  Given this thought in mind, Ohio's total executions in 2009 rank under AL and TX for 3rd most executions (DPIC, 2009). 


One Public Defender says that Ohio is rushing through executions faster than our highest year in 2004 and worries "careless mistakes" may be made (Smith, 2009).  He continues, "'There is an incredible amount of work that goes into one of these cases, and to ask people to do it faster than it is normally done is unacceptable...'" (Smith, 2009). 


Additionally consider the 168 inmates sentenced in the 1980s - early '90s didn't have the option of life without parole as an option (Smith, 2009).


Finally consider the amount of exonerations with DNA evidence.  I know "everyone" is going to tell you they're innocent, but the facts speak for themselves with how many are literally becoming freed by DNA evidence.  In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled death row inmates do not have a federal right to DNA testing to prove their innocence (Smith, 2009). 


I'm not making this about whether or not we should have a death penalty, but there are some very valid issues on the table that appear to be outright ignored time and time again (see my blog about Wilingham from TX








DPIC.  (2009).  Number of Executions by State and Region since 1976.  Retrieved December 8, 2009, from


Welsh-Huggins, Andrew. (2009).  Ohio executes inmate with 1-drug lethal injection. (Associated Press. 8Dec2009). Retrieved December 8, 2009 from


Smith, M. (2009).  Executions are coming too fast, Ohio Public Defender Tim Young says. Plain Dealer. (10 Aug 2009). Retrieved December 8, 2009 from


Categories: Problems in Justice System