On Wednesday July, 23 2014, the state of Arizona attempted to carry out the execution of condemned killer Joseph Rudolph Wood. For at least the fouth time in recent months, this intended execution went horribly wrong and the witnesses reported watching Woods as he gasped for breath and grunted in pain. Subsequently medical reports documented that during the prolongued two-hour ordeal Arizona actually injected Woods 15 times, and only then finally accomplished their intent to kill.
But even as horrible as this spectacle of diabolically inhumane infliction of death may have been, it was the response to this event that was by far even more disturbing. After the newspaper ran articles about this "botched execution" almost without exception one after the other God-fearing American responded with comments of unequivocal support for inflicting painful death upon another human being. (please read: Death Penalty now Cruel and Usual" USA Today, July 29, 2014 by James Alan Fox)
Having been on Florida's death row now myself for over 30 years for a crime I am innocent of (please check out www.southerninjustice.net ) I'm certainly no stranger to "botched executions" as Florida has a long history of it's own failure to competently carry out executions.
But what separates this spectacle of gruesome death from all others that I've heard about in the past was this seemingly organized show of support for making the condemned man suffer a most horrific death. What is clearly reflected in the responses of so many is not merely an indifference to the unintentional infliction of pain, but the all but fanatical if not rabid advocacy for the infliction of suffering. For these people it's not enough that we condemn a man (or woman) for a particular crime and then carry out that sentence of death - they actually want the condemned man to physically suffer as much as possible and (as one said) "the more pain the criminal feels, the better!"
All of this got me thinking about the countless conversations I've had with the hundreds of condemned men I must live amongst, some of whom are considered by society as being the epitome of 'cold-blooded killers" and labeled as nothing less than mortal "monsters". Through the many years I've personally lived among and came to know such infamous kilelrs as Ted Bundy and others. And in the tens of thousands of conversations I've had with these "cold-blooded killers" I have never, not even once, heard a single one say that he wisehd his victims had suffered more. I have never heard even one say that he wished that he had inflicted more pain upon the victim - not even once.
Some may want to doubt my words, but I challange you to look at the recorded "last words" of the now over a thousand condemned men and women who have been put to death in this country since capital punishment was reinstated in 1974 and you will not find a single one who showed this same measure of intent to inflict pain and suffering upon their victims that those in our society today so zealously advocate inflicting upon the condemned.
Almost without exception when the condemned man is given that final opportunity to say what will be his last words, their words reflect remorse and the Christian values of pleading for forgiveness. Not even one person in the past 40 years went to his or her intended fate with that measure of hate in their hearts that these members of our so-called "civilised" society so clearly do possess.
Perhaps the real problem here is that carrying out these state sanctioned executions are too far removed from sociaty as a whole. Thet've become too sterilized and society has become too detached from the reality that under the pretense of administering justice we are taking a human life.
Through the years I've known many who actually witnessed executions and each was profoundly moved by this experience. Sitting not more than a few feet away from the condemned man (or woman) separated only by a thin sheet of glass and being able to actually look into the eyes of the condemned man as he confronted his fate, and then watch as that life slowly drains out of his body before their eyes and then the voice announcing that the sentence of death has been carried out, not one of these witnesses will ever forget that event.
Still even more traumatic (at least to those who have a conscience) would be to witness the execution of another person as it goes horribly wrong. Those who sign up to witness what they expect to be a "routine" execution are undoubtedly scarred for the rest of their lives. For that reason I think all executions should be publically broadcast on network TV, even pre-emptying regularly scheduled programming and only carried out during "prime-time" hours. Every man, owman and child in America should watch as the state takes that life, which the state is only empowered to do in the name of the people. Perhaps then there wouldn't be such widespread indifference to the fact that we are taking a human life.
Myself, many many years ago I was compelled to involuntarily to take the life of another man and to this day, even over 30 years later, not a day goes by that I am not haunted by that momory. I din't rob anyone or rape anyone. I only found myself in a situation where I was forced to respond (please check out: www.southerninjustice.net ) and even though i might justify my actions within that letter of law, it does not relieve me from the nightmares that follow when I can still see the face of that man whose life I was forced to take. And I'm sure that those who witness the execution of a condemned man, to sit and watch another human being put to death, they too will be haunted by that for the rest of their lives.
As a matter of moral conscience, the taking of any life should never be trivialized, much less reduced to a spectacle. But the truth of the matter is that there will always be that part of our society that will openly advocate and even delight in the infliction of pain and suffering of another---and then they call us "monsters"
Michael Lambrix #482053
Union Correctional Institution
7819 NW 228th street
Raiford, Florida 32026