Editorial: Cruel and Unusual?


November 2, 2007


Earl Wesley Berry was sentenced to die for kidnapping and beating to death 56-year old Mary Bounds as she left choir practice at the First Baptist Church of Houston Mississippi 20 years ago this month.  In his drunken rage he bashed her head into a tree and stomped her head hard enough to leave a tennis shoe print, all for no reason.  At last report he had yet to express remorse for his actions.

The Supreme Court of the United States granted a stay in his execution this week just minutes before he was to be put to death by lethal injection.  The stay was predicated on an appeal against the state of Kentucky currently before the Supreme Court that contends that death by lethal injection constitutes cruel and unusual punishment which is forbidden by the Constitution.

Now regardless of one's stand on capital punishment itself—even though I'm not a doctor—common sense would seem to indicate that giving someone a shot and letting them go to sleep is about as humane a way to end their life as possible.  I've had more than a few surgeries in which general anesthetic was administered and there was nothing cruel or unpleasant about it.  I assume it is a similar process.  Compare that to hanging, electrocuting, or shooting—all forms of execution at one time or another in this country—and I can't possibly see how there can be any doubt as to the relative discomfort inflicted.  One thing is sure: it will be a much easier and pain-free death than Mary Bounds suffered while he was beating her to death.

Capital punishment is the law in this and many other states.  To delay it on such flimsy grounds while the victim's family continues to suffer is just another example of the squeamishness that has infected this country and that will further allow the predators, who have no such qualms, to win another victory.

I'm Jim Cameron. We appreciate your comments pro and con.  Write and let us know what you think.