The Case of Billy Frank Vickers
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According to the article, Prosecutors Doubt Inmate Confession True, by Angela K. Brown, Billy Frank Vickers, condemned inmate, received a lethal injection on Wednesday night January 28, 2004 for a 1993 murder after confessing that he was involved in about a dozen other crimes, including the shootings that placed a cloud of suspicion over Davis for three decades (Brown). Jack Strickland, a former prosecutor in the Davis case, said he had never heard of Vickers and that his claims were a last-ditch attempt to get attention and monkey around with the system. Now the question arises of whether lethal injection was the best option for punishing Billy Frank Vickers, not because he is innocent, but because of the question of whether it is humane to take away someone’s life by inserting chemicals into his or her body that may cause more pain than can ever be imagined. I personally believe that there is no justifiable reason to give someone the death penalty as a form of punishment.
In the minds of the American public and jurors in capital cases the perception of lethal injection is of a clean, clinical, and painless end. As stated in the article, Lethal Injection, seventy-one percent of those responding to a 2001 survey considered injection to be the least cruel form of execution (Lethal Injection). This perception is an advantage to the state because the public is much more willing to accept execution in this form and jurors are more willing to convict and pass the death sentence. At times it is understood why the death penalty would be considered in cases. Maybe the people are a threat to not only society but also to themselves, and need to be put to death so they can do no harm to anyone. Vickers gunned down a grocery store owner who was probably trying to make a living for himself and his family. Now this man is gone; his family is left in agony, and maybe Vickers deserves to die. Some people may say an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, but do two wrongs make a right?
Some people may consider the death penalty as inhumane. As stated in the article, Naked City, by Rita Radostitz, Texas uses three chemicals in the lethal injection process: sodium thiopental (an extremely short-term anesthetic), pancuronium bromide (which paralyses the diaphragm and other muscles so the inmate is unable to move or speak, even if he is in pain), and potassium chloride (which stops the heart).
It has been argued that the short-term anesthetic may wear off while the paralyzing agent continues to paralyze the prisoner and that he or she dies an agonizing death through slow suffocation while fully conscious. For this reason, the use of paralyzing agents for the veterinary killing of animals has been made illegal in at least one state. However, according to the article, Lethal Injection (Wikipedia), the use of these agents for killing human beings continues. Although Vickers took someone’s life away, it is not our right to choose to take Vickers life away. Whose to say that Vickers does not have a conscience and spending the rest of his natural life in prison is not enough suffering, knowing that he killed someone who was perhaps expecting a child and will never get to see that child or someone whose child has been left abandoned now because Vickers took away his or her only living parent?
I believe that it is never humane to kill another human being because murder is murder whether it is committed by an individual or the state. According to the article, Lethal Injection: The medical technology of execution, the execution of prisoners, even on charges of murder, appear to suggest that killing is acceptable as long as it is the state which carries out the killing. In my opinion, it should be against the law to give someone the death penalty that is insane, and someone who kills another person for any reason other than self-defense is obviously insane. These people should be treated and given psychological help rather than just put to death. In all honesty, what purpose would it serve to give these people the death penalty? Billy Frank Vickers is dead now but does this bring back the grocery store owner? Now two men are dead, and all for what reason? At first, I thought maybe the family of the grocery store owner is at ease, knowing that Vickers suffered, because as stated in the article, Inmate Claims Murders During His Execution, by Michael Graczyk, Vickers states that he would like to clear up some things (speaking of his involvement in more than a dozen murder cases, including the Cullen Davis case) while strapped to the Texas death chamber gurney, which illustrates his fear of death, and fear itself is enough suffering.
I personally have strong feelings against the inhumane form of death by lethal injection because I recently watched a complete murder case of a mentally insane woman who was put to death because she murdered a couple of people. While watching this case, I began to see inside this ladys life and as bright and intelligent as she seemed, it was obvious that something was wrong. I began to think to myself that there is no way that they can put this lady to death because she needs psychiatric help; she does not even realize that whas she did was wrong. It was then that I began to become emotional for this womans family because I knew that they would feel more pain than the criminal. In all actuality, that is who is being punished, the family. Once the criminal is dead, he or she feels no more pain and suffering; it is the families that are left in deep despair.
Although Vickers did murder someone, I believe that no one should be put to death, not even Vickers. Everyone will eventually die someday so why not allow him or her to die naturally and leave it up to God to punish him or her? God is who gave him life and God should be the only One who has the right to take it away. Maybe some might say that there is no God. Well, how much suffering are they doing if they are killed anyway? They are actually taking out of their misery of having to spend their lives behind bars, never seeing the light of day, and having to replay the situation over and over in their minds. Also if it has been made illegal to kill animals by lethal injection, then why is it okay to still use it for human beings?
Brown, Angela. Prosecutors doubt inmate confession true. The Star Ledger 29 January 2004.
Graczyk, Michael. Inmate Claims Murders During His Execution. The Associated Press 29 January 2004.
Lethal Injection. Capital Punishment U.K. 4 April 2004.
Lethal Injection: The medical technology of execution. Amnesty International Library. 30 January 1998.
Lethal Injection (Wikipedia). Wikipedia: The free ecyclopedia. 2 April 2004.
Radostitz, Rita. Naked City. The Austin Chronicle 30 January 2004.