This week, a serial killer who is said to be responsible for twenty-two deaths between 1977 and 1980 was put to death in Missouri.
Joseph Paul Franklin was an admitted white supremacist who had hoped to start a race war with his crimes, targeting Jewish Americans and African Americans in his deadly efforts.
Among his victims was Hustler publisher Larry Flynt, who was left paralyzed and in a wheelchair in 1978 after being struck by Franklin. Franklin was upset that Flynt had included an interracial couple in his magazine. Despite these life-altering injuries, Flynt was vocal in his opposition to Franklin’s execution, stating that the government does not have the right to take anyone’s life.
Also speaking out against Franklin’s ultimate punishment up until the hours before his death were his attorneys, who argued that the pentobarbital that was injected into Franklin’s system amounted to cruel and unusual punishment as it runs the risk of contamination and can cause prolonged pain before death. However, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals determined that there was not enough evidence to support the stay of execution and the United States Supreme Court declined to intervene.
It is interesting to note that the pentobarbital was selected as the drug of choice for the execution after the European Union, which opposes capital punishment, threatened to halt all shipments of the preferred drug propofol from their manufacturing plants if there was a chance it would be used to administer the death penalty.
I have studied criminal psychology and have allowed myself to delve deeply into the minds of serial killers for my novels. I also have studied the arguments on both sides of the capital punishment debate and there is no doubt it is a heated issue involving law, morality, geopolitics and our very humanity. There are no easy answers when discussing the taking of one man’s life for another and the methods by which to do it.
I would like to know your thoughts.
Are there instances in which the death penalty is an appropriate punishment? If so, how should it be distinguished when a method of execution is cruel and unusual?
More articles about serial killers:
Exploring Four Types of Serial Killers
Serial Killers Who Prefer a Partner in Crime
Do You Know the Name of the Most Prolific Serial Killer in British History?
Serial killers are a fascinating subject Jennifer. Thank you for bringing the Joseph Paul Franklin case to my attention. I look forward to reading more about him on the crime library website. Personally I have no opinion on whether the death penalty is right or wrong. As for the cruel and unusual viewpoint, a good lawyer will always make a strong argument stating that any given method of execution is cruel and unusual.
I agree to putting someone to death when that person has no regard for human life. I believe in an eye for an eye. If the killer tortures their victims, the killer should be tortured. That might be wrong, but the killer should feel the same pain he caused.