Among the bills introduced by South Dakota legislatures this session is Senate Bill 36. SB 36 is labeled: “protect the identity of the person or entity supplying the intravenous injection substance for executions and to increase the penalty for a violation of those provisions.” This bill will update South Dakota codified law 23A-27A-31.2. It was introduced by the Committee on Judiciary at the request of the Office of the Attorney General. Here is the current text of the bill:
FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, An Act to protect the identity of the person or entity supplying the intravenous injection substance for executions and to increase the penalty for a violation of those provisions.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA:
Section 1. That § 23A-27A-31.2 be amended to read as follows:
23A-27A-31.2. The name, address, qualifications, and other identifying information relating to the identity of any person or entity supplying or administering the intravenous injection substance or substances under chapter 23A-27A are confidential. Disclosure of the foregoing information may not be authorized or ordered. Disclosure of confidential information pursuant to this section concerning the execution of an inmate under chapter 23A-27A is a
Class 2 Class 1 misdemeanor.
Basically this bill does two things. First, it updates the language to expand who is being protected. Second it increases the punishment for breaking this law from a Class 2 to a Class 1 misdemeanor. Sadly this shows South Dakota continues down the wrong path with capital punishment.
Gun control and reducing murder within our society has become a large debate topic recently. However at the same time we fail to debate whether the government should be allowed to kill people. The death penalty at its core is simply the taking of someone’s life for revenge. There is no justice or rehabilitation with the death penalty. There is only death.
In my view the only time it is every OK to take another persons life is in self-defense. It is hard to conceive how the long process that a prisoner goes through to get the death penalty could be called self-defense. A citizen planning to kill someone over such a long period of time it would be charged as a premeditated murderer. Yet we fail to hold our government up to the same standard.
If as a society we want to reduce violence and murder perhaps we should look at the government. What kind of example does it set when the government kills on behalf of its citizens? Is that really how we wish our society to be perceived?
I was just trying to write a post about the Aberdeen Police Department’s mishandling of the dog shooting last week. I just couldn’t do it. There is a much bigger issue in South Dakota today that simply won’t let me concentrate on an incompetent Police Chief. As I’m sure most everyone in South Dakota knows, we will be executing a man at 10pm this evening in Sioux Falls.
I’m having a tough time with this. I could go on about how my libertarian views mean that government has no right to murder another person. Yes that is true. However for me this issue goes much deeper. Many who know and work with me say I’m a hard person to read emotionally. I can understand this since I honestly keep emotions to myself. However, I have emotions like any other person.
Contemplating this execution I find myself looking back to an Army deployment I was involved in during the ’90s. While there I was witness to open mass graves filled with bodies; on more than one occasion. You never forget the first time you see such a sight. It sticks with you and makes you question a lot of things. However it is not the first time I witnessed a mass grave that comes to mind; it is the last. The last time I had seen one of these mass graves I gave it no particular attention. In fact I remember being almost numb to it because I had seen so many (actually this was number 4, but more than enough for my lifetime). It wasn’t until I was in my cot later that night I realized the pile of slaughtered human bodies didn’t even effect me. That was one of the few times in my adult life that I cried both on the inside and outside. I couldn’t believe I let my personal morals slip so low as to become numb to mass murder.
Fast forward to today. I was on a forum and seen some comments about how the bastard deserved to die. Now from all accounts the person being executed today is a bad person, and did kill a guard with intent. However in my mind there is never a justification for murder. By living in a place where people are executed ‘for the good of society’ I cannot help but remember my feeling the last night when I had seen a mass grave. The feelings are quite similar. I fear that as a society we are once again losing our moral compass and I can’t help but cry for us.