published Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Justice delayed ...

There are divergent, sincerely held views on the death penalty. Capital punishment generally has the support of the American people, though significant minorities oppose it.

We consider it a tragically necessary punishment for the most vicious violent crimes and for acts such as treason against the United States. It is society’s strongest expression of horror against such crimes.

But the issue is in the news today because Tennessee and a number of other states have had to surrender to the federal government their supplies of one of the drugs used for lethal injections of death row inmates. Some allege that the drug may have been improperly obtained from an unregulated foreign supplier.

The Tennessee Department of Correction says it got its supply domestically, but it is reviewing its options for conducting executions since it had to hand over the drug.

No one should take delight in even well-deserved executions. But neither should Tennessee or any other state face undue delays by the federal government in carrying out that duly imposed sentence.

There should, of course, be verification that drugs used in lethal injections work as they are supposed to, and do not inflict needless pain. But Tennesseans, through their elected state lawmakers, have chosen to keep the death penalty on the books. The will of the majority should prevail.

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