City bomber Tim McVeighs decision to ask the federal government
to help him commit suicide as a way out of a life sentence promises
to make 2001 the year of capital punishment in the United States.
And the rest of the world will be reminded once more of just how
backward, brutal and politically motivated this countrys approach
to matters of crime and punishment remains.
all accounts, McVeigh prefers lethal injection to a lifetime in
prison. Thus, in order to "punish" the man whose 1995 crime left
168 people dead, the feds plan to comply with his wish.
Absolutely. Even more absurd, and horrifying, is the fact that,
if McVeigh is executed, tax dollars from Wisconsin -- a state that
has banned capital punishment for 150 years -- will be used to kill
an imprisoned human being for the first time since 1963.
U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and others -- including the families
of some Oklahoma City bombing victims -- have been courageously
seeking to prevent the renewal of federal executions, the bloodlust
of President George W. Bush and equally wrong-minded politicians
is such that they are unlikely to prevent the renewal of federally
execution industry in this country requires a steady flow of blood
in order to keep the machinery of death in operation. Bush, Bill
Clinton and other "leaders" who have used capital punishment as
a political tool cannot allow common sense or sound criminal justice
policy to prevail -- since a halt to executions would prove the
point of capital punishment foes who argue that the economically
and emotionally costly gambit actually makes the streets less safe
by fostering a culture of violence.
most American politicians and jurists lack the courage and the intellectual
honesty to oppose capital punishment, leaders in other countries
are under no illusions about the fundamental flaws in a system of
state-sponsored executions. Last week, the Supreme Court of Canada
voted 9-0 to bar the extradition to the United States of two men
accused of murder in Washington state unless Canadian authorities
receive guarantees that the men will not face execution.
jurists went far beyond the procedural blocking the extradition
of the two men, however. The high court of Canada -- a nation that
has barred capital punishment since 1976 -- condemned the death
penalty as the flawed, unjust and irrevocable travesty that it is.
Citing the frequency of reports of wrongful murder convictions in
the United States, the court said the public record "provides tragic
testimony to the fallibility of the legal system -- despite its
elaborate safeguards for the protection of the innocent."
if safeguards did exist, however, the Canadian jurists argue that
the practice would be unacceptable. "It is final. It is irreversible.
Its imposition has been described as arbitrary," the judges said
of capital punishment. "Its deterrent value has been doubted. Its
implementation necessarily causes psychological and physical suffering."
ruling by the Canadian court marks a dramatic shift in direction
by that countrys judiciary. Until recently, Canadian courts
had held that even if their countrys laws barred executions,
that did not constitute sufficient grounds for denying a request
for extradition to the United States.
more. Citing the growing international consensus that capital punishment
is not merely unjust but, in fact, immoral, Canadas jurists
now say they can no longer cooperate with U.S. authorities who seek
to execute human beings. To do so, the justices explain, would "violate
our sense of fundamental justice."
there be any doubt left that Americans -- be they judges, senators
or citizens -- ought to be saying the same thing?
Copyright 2001 The Capital Times