The day may not be far off when states must abandon the fiction of medically sterile execution and go back to the messier, less “humane” methods of old. When that happens, it’s a good bet public support of the death penalty will erode quickly (it currently stands at 55 percent). The electric chair sometimes sets inmates on fire. Hanging can decapitate. The firing squad is too violent for most.
Try as we might, we will not find a humane way to commit an inherently inhumane act — putting a person to death — and as long as we do, we put our nation under a moral cloud.
Mary Sanchez is an opinion-page columnist for The Kansas City Star. Readers may write to her at: Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 64108-1413, or via email at email@example.com.
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