Why?

It’s entirely true that Walter Leroy Moody sent a series of pipe bombs around, one of which killed someone making him a murderer. But seriously, executing someone who is 83 years of age? Seems like an awfully high cost – yes, executions are vastly expensive – when just leaving him to the tender mercies of the prison hospital system is likely to do the job quickly enough:

On Thursday evening, Alabama is set to execute an 83-year-old serial package bomber named Walter Leroy Moody.

One of the few people who has to be taken into the execution chamber on a stretcher?

Moody is set to die by lethal injection Thursday at 6 p.m. at Holman Correctional Facility. He is the oldest inmate on Alabama’s Death Row, and still maintains he is innocent in the 1989 bombing that killed U.S. 11th Circuit of Appeals Judge Robert Vance Sr. at his Mountain Brook home. The blast also injured Vance’s wife.

Well, killing a senior judge, that’s something a legal system is going to come down pretty hard upon, obviously. Murder plus contempt of court and it’s not entirely obvious that the second isn’t the more serious crime.

Moody, who has spent more than 20 years on death row, has maintained his innocence and his lawyers have not yet used his age in appeals seeking to halt the execution. He has applied for clemency at the state level.

Actually, death row in the US might well be a worse punishment than the execution itself. The rules are entirely different from what they were in the UK when we still hanged people. The rules are stricter and it’s also, pretty much, solitary confinement. Rather than the relaxation of rules that we used to have when death was nigh.

But, you know, it is pretty odd to be executing an 83 year old. After all, he’s only waiting to find out which cancer is going to kill him, isn’t he?

Opinions and views around here on the death penalty itself are pretty mixed. But this case is odd to me at least. But, you know, maybe the stress will give him a heart attack – blackly amusing that would be, as the State would then try to make him well again so they could execute him.

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Spike
Member

That the law means what it says, and that murder leads to undesirable consequences for the murderer, are much more important than whether a given execution is not worth it, superfluous, or tugs at our pity, if it even does. Yes, executions are absurdly expensive. Yes, “amusing…the State would then try to make him well again so they could execute him” — and the chemical must be found to be “safe and effective” by the same government. In practice, we use a sequence of chemicals that even mask from the convict the fact that his body is being induced to… Read more »

JamesInNZ
Member
JamesInNZ

I’ve never really understood why they use the sequence of chemicals; just hook the condemned up to a nitrogen tank and get him to breathe in 100% pure nitrogen. As they’ll be expelling any CO2 when they exhale their body won’t panic about the lack of oxygen (the reflex isn’t actually about lack of oxygen but an excess of CO2) and they’ll carry on breathing normally until they stop.

We did this as an experiment at school and it is surprisingly strange falling backwards off your stool as you pass out – without realising at any point that anything is wrong!

Spike
Member

This is an outrageous school experiment, as unwanted side-effects can happen any time you pass out.

Rhoda Klapp
Member
Rhoda Klapp

Ageist!

Steve
Member
Steve

There’s the old deterrence argument: “but that horses may not be stolen”. Now, I dunno if this is actually, statistically true or not, but the reasoning isn’t bad. I reckon, however, the true purpose of criminal law – the only objective that’s reasonably within the power and competency of the state acting as judge and jailer – is retribution. An eye for an eye, as the Jews and Babylonians believed, though not necessarily literally. If we accept the retributive purpose of criminal justice, and if we take murder seriously, then we should kill murderers. Stands to reason, don’t it? The… Read more »

Spike
Member

The U.S. Supreme Court has stayed the execution so as to get its own licks in. Perhaps octogenarians will be their next carve-out from the death penalty. Steve — The punishment is supposed to “fit” the crime, to be proportional to the crime, not necessarily be identical to the crime as the ancients held; it is awkward when A commits an obviously more heinous act than B but B gets the greater penalty. But the more important thing is that A, B, and bystanders contemplating crime know that crime meets a reaction that makes it not worth it — even… Read more »

Spike
Member

Now Reuters reports the Supreme Court reviewed the cased (delaying the execution) but declined to intervene, and Moody is gone.

Hector Drummond
Member

At that age all someone needs to do is knock his walking stick so he falls over and breaks his hip.

TD
Member
TD

The death penalty is probably fading away in the US though it will take some years yet. The opposition to the death penalty is strong enough to result in decades between the initial sentence and the final execution. It is very costly. There is always the risk of error so each case is vetted and re-vetted. It is somewhat inconsistent of conservatives to think that government is largely inept or corrupt except when it comes to this. As a conservative, there are a bunch of things I think you could trade for the death penalty. For example, much lower tax… Read more »

Spike
Member

In other words, why don’t “we conservatives” drop our out-of-step support of the death penalty in exchange for measures, such as lower tax rates, that would quickly be re-raised with the same rationale as originally? Trade it for ending tariffs? Odd, given that a “conservative” President is making higher tariffs his stock-in-trade. Embrace a leftie policy “in exchange” for hamstringing our President? No sale. Executive Orders properly only extend to the function of the Executive Branch in complying with the law. Read any of Trump’s for examples. Obama’s made excuses to defy the law and created entirely new programs such… Read more »

TD
Member
TD

Is being against the death penalty necessarily a liberal position? Certainly it is true of many liberals but not all. Bill Clinton didn’t seem to have a problem with it. There are conservatives who would give it up. But, it still seems to me that overall support for it is waning in the US. If you think, as I do, that it will one day be ended everywhere in the country then why not try to get something for ending it earlier? As for other things, in a country that seems to be about 47% one way and 47% the… Read more »

Spike
Member

It is primarily a leftie position. But above that, you sound like a leftie. Conservatives adopt position X because understanding of the human condition suggests that X will be effective in favoring civil behavior (for example, starkly clear negative consequences for misconduct). Lefties adopt position X because I see the future and I am ahead of the curve, not that I am a leftie, in fact I am one of you, but we could get such a great deal if we just conceded to the inevitable, me me me.

TD
Member
TD

I’m more of a libertarian.