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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.

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