Alabama botched an execution

Make no mistake, you lawmakers and judges, in the eyes of God as in those of conscience, what is a crime when individuals do it is no less an offense when society commits the deed.

Victor Hugo’s quote made over a century ago could have been said directly to an Alabama judge last week.

Thirteen minutes into a lethal injection for Ronald Smith, a 45-year-old who executed a store clerk in 1994, and the man began coughing violently. That seems to indicate he was conscious during the injection process. 

At the beginning of his execution, Smith heaved and coughed repeatedly, clenching his fists and raising his head.

A prison guard performed two consciousness checks before the final two lethal drugs were administered. In a consciousness test, a prison officer says the inmate’s name, brushes his eyelashes and then pinches his left arm. During the first one, Smith moved his arm. He slightly raised his right arm again after the second consciousness test.


Whether or not he was conscious is being debated, but why? Is there really a humane way to kill a person. The state seems to think so, but the state also thinks a lot of silly things. As much as I feel for Casey Wilson’s family, the criminal justice system should not be in the business of revenge.




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