What’s up with the Lethal Injection Drug Shortage?

I think they outlawed what they use – didn’t it come out that the pre-drug didn’t kill pain, but only caused total paralysis so that we couldn’t see how much it hurts, what a cruel, horrible practice it is?

So now there’s a “shortage” in the States – code for “outlawed where they make it in Europe” and they’re scrambling, trying different cocktails . . . and here is my question:

What the Hell is wrong with morphine and heroin?

Is it too good for these scumbags? Why not set him up with a steady drip, one that will come on slow, play the guy’s favourite music, let him get high, feel good, fall asleep and watch his breathing slow until it stops?

I mean you’re already killing the bastard, do you really have to punish him even more? Let the bastard die nice, fa crissakes!

What is the matter with us? Death is too good for our most screwed up individuals, it must be a horrible death? What does that say about us? What does that do to us, morally? What are we turning ourselves into?

I don’t buy into what I call the Punishment Cult, or the Punishment Culture, at all. I don’t think children should be punished, at all, and I don’t think adult criminals should be either. If it must be incarceration, let it be nice. I advocate for a maximum security  Ramada Inn. Decent furniture, HBO, decent food. If people are dangerous and violent and we need to separate them, that will do it, why do we need to make them meaner and more bitter?

If it must be death, or if they choose death, let it me a morphine drip, let it be nice. Why not?

We punish people for hurting people. How? By hurting them. This doesn’t improve people. If it did, our violence and crime problems would be improving, we’ve been doing what we do – punishing – for a very long time, generations, and it’s not getting better. I think it’s time to admit that violence breeds violence, which means that if you want less violence, then we must – guess what?

You can’t can you?

Violence breeds violence, which means that if you want less violence, then we must  . . . wait for it . . .

Be less violent. Meaning US, not some ephemeral THEM. If the GOOD guys hurt people, what do we expect from the bad guys?

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Punishment – the Definition

Punishment describes the act of imposing something unpleasant or aversive on a person or animal in response to an unwanted behaviour. The behaviour may be unwanted for any number of reasons, including disobedience and immorality, and the unpleasantness may take any number of forms, but we understand the use of punishment as intended to condition the person or animal to stop the behaviour, to learn not to do it. We use the term to mean some unpleasantness brought to bear by an authority onto a misbehaving party with the intention of correcting the misbehaviour. According to the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy,

“In common usage, the word “punishment” might be described as “an authorized imposition of deprivations — of freedom or privacy or other goods to which the person otherwise has a right, or the imposition of special burdens — because the person has been found guilty of some criminal violation, typically (though not invariably) involving harm to the innocent.”

In short form, then, in the most general view, punishment is the act of an authorized person imposing something unpleasant or aversive in response to an unwanted behaviour.

In the technical language of psychology, the definition of ‘the reduction of a behaviour by the removal (negative punishment) or application (positive punishment) of a stimulus’ only applies if the intended result is actually achieved, if the unwanted behaviour is reduced. This ‘application of aversives’ is only elevated to the definition ‘punishment’ if it succeeds.

It is possible to break the idea of punishment down into its components, or aspects, and those may need some definition as well:

Retribution:

Possibly the original idea of punishment, the straight-forward practice of getting “even” with someone who has caused harm, the idea that the perpetrator of a wrong then suffers is seen as just and proper, even if no other benefit is seen. While it may be seen as abuse, it is considered to be justifiable on the basis that when there is no retribution, the innocent victim suffers more than the guilty party, which would be counter-intuitive to a just society. Having said that, a brutal retribution probably also has aspects of either incapacitation or deterrent (see below). Part of the definition is that the miscreant suffers a fate that is equal to the suffering of his victim.

Rehabilitation:

This is the attempt to turn the criminal away from crime, to show him the error of his ways, and to try to give him another way to live, to bring him back to the life of the just, that he won’t return to crime when he can. This is a lofty goal, not really part of his punishment as such, but often attempted simultaneously with punishment.

Incapacitation:

This refers to restricting a miscreant’s ability to continue his wrong deeds, in order to protect future victims. Common methods have been exile, incarceration, or the more brutal practices of mutilation, such as castration of rapists or the cutting off of hands for thievery.

Restoration:

Simply put, the wrong-doer simply is made to right the wrong, perhaps cleaning up a mess he created, or repaying money he stole. This is seen as a more rational sort of consequence than some other types of action that can be taken against a criminal.

Deterrent:

The idea that the prospect of a punishment could stop a crime from ever being committed, that if the criminal knows the punishment and fears it, he may decide against the crime, it is often referred to in cases of severe punishments, the more severe, that the stronger the deterrent effect. In cases of capital punishment (the death penalty), deterrent is the argument for it, along with retribution, being that other aspects of punishing, like restoration, or rehabilitation, cannot be applied.

Corporal punishment:

Physical punishment, the deliberate application of physical pain applied as retribution and/or deterrent. According to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, corporal punishment is

“any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light.” (UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (2001) “General Comment No. 1.” Par. 11.)

Regarding authority, punishments can be legitimately administered by:

– parents or guardians upon children, except that in the case of corporal punishment of children, 32 countries have outlawed it (The U.S.A. is not one of them.)
– teachers and administrators of schools upon students, although not universally, and again, except in the case of corporal punishment of minors, where it has been outlawed in many countries and many of the US states
– criminal courts
– prison authorities
– military organizations
– church hierarchies
– employers (by contract – demotions, etc.)

So, to repeat, for the purposes of this conversation, this will be my definition of punishment, considering the above comments: the act of an authorized person imposing something unpleasant or aversive in response to an unwanted behaviour. To add to it, I think we need to say that the motive is important to the definition, and for me, “in response” doesn’t really say it. The intent of the response, then, is to change the behaviour in order to serve some accepted desire or need of the punisher or the society.