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Ron Cruger
The Spectator
founded 2004 by ron cruger
A place for intelligent writers
A place for intelligent readers
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        There were fourteen people in the viewing area. The prisoner’s mother and two cousins were there along with his two lawyers. A representative from the Governor sat in the front row along with two newspaper reporters and an anchorwoman from the local television station. Also in the front row was the prison Warden. Sitting in the back row was the CNN correspondent with his cameraman who focused his camera on the thick glass window that offered the fourteen a view of the prisoner as he was being strapped to the cold, grey metal gurney.
        The prisoner was still sitting up on the gurney as the three assistant wardens of the prison gently lowered him so he lied completely on his back.
        After being on the prison’s death row for thirteen years the prisoner offered little resistance to the assistant wardens as they tightened the thick leather belts on his chest and hips.
        The largest of the wardens reached across the still body of the prisoner for the end of the belt. He placed the end of the belt in the buckle and cinched it tightly. As he tugged on the belt around the prisoner’s left leg he stole a glance at the reclining figure of the man convicted of the cold blooded murder of his wife and two children fifteen years previously. He saw the face of a man who appeared to accept his fate. The prisoner flinched as his captors tightened the belts on his legs.
        Now, with his legs tightly belted, the 48 year old convicted multiple killer, struggled to gain a comfortable position as the wardens began the final process of tying down his two arms by strapping his wrists to the heavy steel gurney, which in turn, is solidly anchored to the cement floor of the green execution room.
        The six foot 5 inch prisoner looked at the warden closest to his right hand. He peered into his eyes as if silently saying, “I’m still not afraid. Screw you.”
        On his left hand side the prisoner watched the warden place the end of the leather belt into the steel buckle and tighten it around his left wrist.
        All that was left was the leather strapping to envelope his head.
        Suddenly the prisoner’s eyes opened widely and he screamed, his bellow vibrating inside the metal shell of the execution chamber.
        The three startled assistant wardens, jumped back. The Warden, seated in the front row of the visitor’s area, saw the commotion through the thick glass window and stood.
        The largest of the assistant wardens inside the metal room leaned forward over the prisoner and asked, “What’s up?”
        The prisoner grimaced and said, “These belts are so tight, they’re hurting me. It’s painful!”
        The assistant warden jumped back, looked out the window of the chamber, meeting the eyes of the prison Warden outside. The Warden waved with his hands over his head signaling a halt to the proceedings. Turning around towards the assembled visitor’s the prison Warden continued waving his hands over his head and reported, “Halt the execution, we can’t continue, we’re chafing the prisoner’s wrists. Stop, stop!”
        And so, the belts were loosened and removed. The prisoner, dressed in his orange jump suit, was assisted off the gurney and returned to his cell. The warden, accompanied by the governor’s representative, followed the prisoner to his cell and standing with his hands on the bars outside, leaned forward and told the prisoner, “We’re really sorry about the tight belts on your wrist. We hope it didn’t cause you too much pain or discomfort. We hope you’ll accept our apologies.”
        “I would hope that you people would be more careful. Look at the marks on my wrist. It’s not only painful, it’s embarrassing. I’ll need some ointment and a band aid.”
        The next day the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments to decide whether lethal injections used to execute criminals cause unacceptable pain.
        The hearing is about whether the three-chemical cocktail used to end the lives of death row inmates violates the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
        Attorneys for two Kentucky death row inmates argued in their appeal to the Supreme Court that the current lethal injection method can cause excruciating and needless pain.
        The argument is that society wants and needs capital punishment but executions should be as painless as cataract surgery or baptism. Hanging, electrocution, firing squad and lethal injection all have aspects that are cruel to both criminals and those responsible for carrying out the execution.
        “Painless as cataract surgery!” Indeed.
        Perhaps equal attention and sensitivity should be directed towards the memories of the wife and two children who the prisoner brutally murdered fifteen years ago by slitting their throats with a kitchen knife.
        His three victims lay long buried in the cold ground, deprived of their lives, their future happiness.
        Meanwhile the prisoner sits safely in his cell, recovering from a badly chafed left wrist.