USA | Parkland Case Challenges Us All to Figure Out What a Mass Murderer Deserves

The ongoing sentencing trial of Nikolas Cruz, the 23-year-old Florida man who in 2018 murdered fourteen students and three staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day, will test whether the seven men and five women on the jury hearing his case can hate the sin but muster the courage to spare the life of the sinner. That is exactly what his defense team is asking them to do as they sit in judgment of the person who perpetrated one of this country’s most brutal mass murders. Like many death penalty defense lawyers before them, Cruz’s lawyers, to their credit, have not downplayed the gravity of the horrors their client inflicted in Parkland, Florida. Instead, during the sentencing trial, or what the journalist Dahlia Lithwick once called a “trial of the heart,” they have focused their attention on who Cruz is and the factors that shaped his life. As the Supreme Court said more than fifty years ago, in capital cases those who impose the sentence must consider “

South Carolina lawmakers face challenges after execution methods ‘unconstitutional’

Inmates on South Carolina’s death row are waiting to see what their future holds after a judge ruled the state’s execution methods are unconstitutional. The ruling comes months after the state adopted death by firing squad alongside the electric chair as possible execution methods.

State leaders now find themselves in a position where they have no legal methods to perform executions for death row inmates. The state has had trouble acquiring the drugs needed to perform lethal injections for years.

“I was heartened to see the South Carolina court yesterday overturn these as potentially cruel and unusual punishments, as inhumane,” says State Representative Spencer Wetmore.

An upstate judge says forcing South Carolina inmates to choose between death by firing squad or the electric chair is prohibited by the constitution. In the ruling by Judge Jocelyn Newman, she says the state “turned back the clock” when it implemented death by firing squad. Representative Wetmore supports the ruling.

“These are both incredibly barbaric methods of execution,” says Representative Wetmore. “The potential for botched executions, the potential for pain and suffering by the inmates is incredibly high.”

State leaders now face a challenge moving forward. With drugs needed for lethal injection nearly impossible to get paired with the decision, Political Analyst John Brisini says it’s back to the drawing board at the Statehouse.

“The path forward really depends on how far they want to take it,” says Brisini. “The state, if they were willing to entertain additional methods of execution, those probably would’ve been included already.”

One option Brisini says elected officials could consider is the state taking things into its own hands by creating the needed drugs.

“Some have called for the state to make its own drugs,” says Brisini. “We might see some additional conversations expand to explore what possibilities might exist.”

The debate is likely to continue; Representative Wetmore says new methods for death row inmates could go beyond capital punishment.

“I think we have to ask ourselves; Is this what we want to be in the business of as a state,” says Representative Wetmore. “Or should we be looking at other forms of punishment for our inmates convicted of these heinous crimes?”

Governor Henry McMaster is expected to appeal the judge’s ruling – it’s unclear if state legislatures will consider alternative options following the decision.

Source: WCBD news, Staff, September 8, 2022

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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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