Sunday, September 26, 2010

Unconstitutionally Medieval: Brown Chooses Not to Choose

The Chron reports:

Lawyers for Albert Greenwood Brown filed court papers to appeal a federal judge's refusal to block the execution, which is set for Wednesday. Brown also let pass a noon deadline set by the judge to choose between a one-drug lethal injection or execution by a three-drug cocktail.

His attorney called such a choice "unconstitutionally medieval."

Brown's refusal to choose means a three-drug cocktail will be used in his execution if the appeals court doesn't block California's first execution in nearly five years.

This absurd situation is exactly why our endless involvement in the technical minutia of state-endorsed killings is not a step toward progress, but rather an amoral and immoral avenue. As Deborah Denno argues in this paper,

[t]he presumed tie between successful lethal injection challenges and abolition can distract legislatures, courts, and prison personnel from examining the actual issue under consideration – the constitutionality of states’ execution protocols. While litigation over execution methods furthers abolitionist goals through the resultant decline in the number of executions, states continue to cling to troublesome execution methods in order to cloak the death penalty’s flaws.

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