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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 29, 2014 / 2 Menachem-Av, 5774

When the hangman botches the job

By Wesley Pruden




JewishWorldReview.com | The taking of a life to punish taking a life is an idea whose time is not yet gone, but its years may be numbered. A low-key campaign against capital punishment is flourishing, led this time by lonely conservatives. Many of them are concerned about the inefficiency of state killing, if not the morality of it.

Capital punishment has been consistently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, despite the constitutional prohibition of "cruel and unusual punishment." It's difficult to see how the killing could be any more cruel or unusual than in a succession of botched executions this year among the several states. A Colombian drug lord could take lessons from Arizona in how to inflict cruel pain and unusual agony.

The executioners of Joseph Rudolph Wood, 55, were so long about it earlier this month — nearly two hours — that his lawyers had time to file an unusual emergency appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in mid-execution for relief on humanitarian grounds. "He has been gasping and snorting for more than an hour," his lawyers told the justices. "He is still alive." The justices, perhaps eager to finally get away for their summer holiday, declined to stop it.

Wood began gasping shortly after the sedative midazolam and the painkiller hydromorphone were administered. Witnesses said Wood's mouth dropped open, his chest expanded dramatically and then contracted, and they counted 600 violent gasps over the next 90 minutes. The director of the state Department of Corrections said he "conferred and collaborated with our IV team members and was assured that the inmate was comatose and never in pain or distress."

But a good time was clearly not had by all. What makes the Arizona execution particularly horrific is that it was the third such cruel and unusual botch job this year. Ohio put Dennis McGuire to death in January with a cocktail of new and untested drugs that, if not mixed properly, cause unimaginable pain. McGuire screamed that he felt as if his body was on fire, and death did not follow his gasping and writhing on a gurney for 25 minutes. The Ohio attorney general had argued earlier, when his lawyer tried to block the execution with the untested drugs, that the U.S. Constitution bars cruel and unusual punishment but "you're not entitled to a pain-free execution."

In April, Oklahoma tried for an hour to execute Clayton Lockett, a murderer and a rapist, while he lay convulsing and writhing on a gurney, and never succeeded. He died of a heart attack while waiting for the state to get on with it.

The states complain that executing isn't as easy as it used to be because drug manufacturers are no longer willing to participate. The European Union prohibits continental manufacturers from selling drugs for executions, and in America, the states have scurried to find alternatives, sometimes trading lethal recipes with each other. Tennessee grew frustrated with the search and has restored the electric chair, which is not an improvement. It often sets the doomed man on fire, leaving him a charred mess of smoking bones and blackened flesh. Several of the 32 states with statutory authority to execute no longer do.



Capital punishment has always been a popular way to punish heinous crimes, and most of those executed are heinous criminals, indeed. They may deserve what they get, but the coarsened public doesn't. The distinction is easily lost. Retribution and revenge has enjoyed the sanction of both church and state through the centuries. A shipwrecked sailor in ancient times was thrown out of the sea by the storm and was relieved to see a gallows on the hillside. "Thank God!" he cried. "I've landed in a Christian country!"

In frontier America, hanging was nearly always done in public. Judge Isaac Parker's busy gallows made Fort Smith famous. Families gathered on the courthouse lawn for a picnic with entertainment. In Colonial times, death was doled out not only for murder, but for adultery, arson and theft.

The state, perhaps recognizing the brutalizing effects of state killing on the public, slowly came to put death behind wraps. Even now, when executions descend from grim to gruesome, a warden will pull the curtain to shield witnesses from watching cruel and unusual death.

Polls show that 80 percent of Republicans favor the death penalty, but a small but expanding group of conservatives argue that fealty to authentic conservatism leads away from capital punishment. Some of the names, ranging from Jeb Bush to Newt Gingrich to Rick Perry, are surprising. The death penalty is as popular as ever with many conservatives, but methods of dealing death are not. Inefficiency inevitably costs money, and wasteful government inefficiency, after all, is not a conservative virtue.

Wesley Pruden Archives

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© 2014 Wesley Pruden

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