Friday, May 06, 2011

April 30, 2011

Dear Sis,

   Connecticut may be on the verge of abolishing the death penalty.  The bill has been forwarded to the whole senate by a major committee; if the senate approves it, it will become law as the new governor has stated that he will sign it.  The Connecticut legislature approved a similar bill two years ago but the then-Republican governor vetoed it.  As you know, Illinois abolished capital punishment some months ago, and a number of other states have abolition bills working through their respective legislatures.  Ever so slowly there is a shift against the death penalty manifesting across the country.  It will take many more years for it to come to fruition, especially in the south where killing people is deeply ingrained in the psyche of the citizens, but one day it will come about and a new generation will abandon this barbaric custom...
  Well, Florida has just joined several other states (Texas, Oklahoma and Ohio) in changing its drug of choice for executions from sodium thiopental (the first of the  3 drugs administered in the "three-drug-cocktail") which is no longer manufactured in America, to pentobarbital, the pink "Pepto-Bismol"-like drug that is commonly used in anumal shelters to euthanize unlucky dogs and cats.  So, killing us "like dogs" has gone from the metaphorical to literal.  Both Oklahoma and Ohio have already executed prisoners with the new drug which has never been vetted for human use.  There will be court challenges around the country over this change, some successful (at least in the short term) and others unsuccessful (like in Ohio and Oklahoma).  Whenever someone changes some significant aspect of death penalty procedures, it opens up a whole new round of legal challenges to the methods of execution (i.e., to the drugs & execution protocols) since they are temporary solutions and besides the fact.  All they do is delay the inevitable; they don't attack the underlying conviction or sentence which is the only way to get off the row.  So, I never got into that trip, leaving it to others to pursue those legal remedies.  And, it almost came to a halt 3 years ago when the US  Supreme Court handed down the Baze decision where a bare majority ruled that the 3-drug protocol did not violate the 8th Amendment...
   Here it seems to have gone directly from winter to summer.  It was 92 degrees when I went to rec the other day, a blazing sun in a clear blue sky.  It was hot!  But I love the sunshine and I bear the heat.  I spent my 3 hours, as usual, working out and walking the yard, enjoying a handful of singing birds (mostly Mocking Birds), and a few chirping babies in nests up in the razor wire atop our yard fences, which kept me company.  And I admired the (incongruous) beautiful yellow flowers lining the road to the execution chamber.  I always whistle to the birds and they whistle and sing back, seeming to enjoy the banter.  But, I miss my clever crows that I had in Virginia; they were like old friends.  I knew them for years, and they knew me...
   Farewell, Sis, I'll see you soon!

Love and Peace

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