Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Real Death Sentence

I apologize for the back-to-back Hendrik Hertzberg posts, but here's his powerful statement, part of a blog post about the botched execution in Ohio, about what an honest death sentence in America would look like:

You are hereby sentenced to death. Before you are killed, you will be taken a maximum security prison, there to be held in isolation for twenty-three hours of every day in conditions of solitary confinement. The length of this imprisonment is indeterminate but unlikely to be less than ten years. Though it may be as few as two or three years, it is more likely to be twenty or more. At intervals you will be told that you will be put to death on a certain date. Neither you nor your jailers nor anyone else will know which of these dates will prove to be the correct one. You will suffer depression, extreme anxiety, and, most probably, severe mental deterioration. On one of these dates, you will be strapped to a gurney and poisoned by intravenous injection of lethal chemicals. Your execution may take an hour or more. Your death is likely to be accompanied by unbearable pain, though this will not be apparent to witnesses because one of the chemicals will have paralyzed you, preventing you from crying out or moving.

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