Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Killing Angel Nieves

The ghastly practice of killing human beings for claimed crimes is something I have always opposed. Apart from the probability that innocent people (however innocence is defined) may be put to death, killing people for serious crimes, such as murder, simply repeats the crime. Capital punishment damages societies that carry it out by cheapening the value of life.

1,052 US prisoners have been given a reprieve from the lethal needle after the grotesque death of Angel Nieves recently: The 3-drug cocktail supposed to sedate Nieves and kill him painlessly and quickly instead left the inmate conscious, grimacing in pain and struggling for breath. It took half an hour and a second round of injections before the spectacle ended.

But what is really obscene here is the idea that there is a technically humane way for the state to execute people. The reason for the reprieves is that the killing of Nieves was untidy – if the death had been quick and neat, the claim seems to be - there would be no problem.

But it is capital punishment itself which is ghastly and unnecessary. It should be abolished everywhere. I am a strong supporter of Amnesty International on this one.


Anonymous said...

for once I absolutely agree with you Harry.

On Christmas day in Japan, 4 people were hanged by the state. Two of those people were over 70 years old.

And a Merry Christmas to you

Anonymous said...

It is easy for people whose loved ones have not been murdered to say the death penalty is wrong, but would you still oppose the death penalty if your loved one was brutally murdered?

I looked up Angel Nieves on google and he's sure no angel. To me, he is a callous murderer who should have been executed the first time he committed murder. Then Joseph Nagy would have been still alive. Yes, I know, there's a question about whether Nieves shot Nagy, but if Nieves was executed long ago, this armed robbery may not have occurred and Nagy would still be alive.

I support the death penalty. Not for its deterrent effect, but because I believe that those who commit horrible crimes should be severely punished. Life imprisonment is not severe enough for those sorts of criminals.

hc said...

Anonymous, I understand that the imnpulse for revenge is strong - not just for loved ones but also for those hateful individuals like Bin Laden and Bashir who commit and encourage the murder of ionnocents. But I am sure that - other than satisfying the urge for revenge - judicially murdering them does not help matters.

I certainly have no affection for Nieves.

conrad said...

I personally don't support the death penalty either -- although it is worth considering the implications for where the death penalty is used as a deterrent.

I'm pretty sure most evidence is that it doesn't deter people in rich countries from any form of crime, but if it did in poor countries, how would you feel about it then?

robert merkel said...

The only "humane" method of execution ever devised was by the Soviets.

Prisoners were invited out of their cell to write a letter of clemency to Stalin. On the way "to write the letter", they were shot in the head from behind.

But on to a more substantive issue. Anonymous, it is easy for people who support the death penalty to make that claim. While I can't claim to have had a close relative murdered, my sister changed her mind at the last minute rather than visit Port Arthur on the day that Martin Bryant let loose, so it's something I've put considerable thought into.

If fate had placed me in a situation where Bryant's death could have prevented some of the loss of life, I would have pulled the trigger without a second thought. But afterwards? Killing a pathetic excuse for a human being like Bryant isn't going to bring anybody else back.

Sam Ward said...

What I don't get is whatever happened to "For The Term Of His Natural Life"?

Even if killers like Grieves are not executed in the first instance, wilful murderers should never be let out of prison, ever. That at least solves the problem of reoffending.

civitas said...

I support the death penalty too. For the most heinous crimes. There are simply some people who cannot be rehabilitated.

Diego Flores said...

D. Flores from Puerto Rico

Please visit the link:


There you will know what kind of piece of crap was Angel Nieves Diaz. After 10 years of trials, revises, investigations and all what US System does to apply death penalty.... Its never wrong.

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