On the Execution of Jonathan Green

by ELIZABETH ANN STEIN

I slept fitfully Wednesday night after Texas’s Herculean and ultimately successful efforts to execute Jonathan Green on the appointed day.

One of the most troubling aspects of the event was the intense personal involvement of some of our nation’s finest legal minds.

Lawyers in the attorney general’s office in Austin toiled late to compose counter-briefs while, 1,300 miles away, Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court burned the midnight oil to give instant consideration to a barrage of last-minute appeals by Green’s attorney, James Rytting. The high court ultimately rejected them all in time for Texas to beat its midnight deadline to execute Green.

Death warrants authorizing Texas prison officials to kill a prisoner typically expire at midnight.

“It’s hurting me bad,” Green cried out from the gurney in Huntsville as he looked at the intravenous needle in his left arm. The drugs began to flow around 10:30 p.m. – four and a half hours after the 6 p.m. execution time. Eighteen minutes later, he was dead.

Had the justices not ruled so quickly, Green would still be alive today, though in all likelihood his execution would have been rescheduled for a later date and carried out.

So why did I feel so sickened, I wondered, by the intensity of coordinated effort required to carry out his execution on the intended date?

Then I flashed on the last nation to become famous for using its considerable brain power to deal death efficiently.

The United States is far from becoming the Third Reich, but the spectacle accompanying Green’s execution convinced me that the death penalty is harmful not just to the condemned but also to the nation that uses it.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan said, “The calculated killing of a human being by the state involves, by its very nature, an absolute denial of the executed person’s humanity.”

I worry where our country is bound as, execution by execution, we move away from, rather than toward, a fuller recognition of each citizen’s humanness.

Elizabeth Ann Stein is the producer and co-founder of Execution Watch on the nonprofit Pacifica Radio Network’s flagship station KPFT FM 90.1 Houston.

Exclusively in the new print issue of CounterPunch
THE ARAB SPRING AT A CROSSROADS — Esam Al-Amin surveys the new Middle East, from the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, to the aftermath of the overthrow of Qaddafi and the civil war in Syria, and outlines the economic and political challenges facing the fledgling Arab democracies; THE BI-PARTISAN PLAN TO GUT MEDICARE: Dave Lindorff digs beneath the rhetoric to expose the grim similarities in both Obama and Romney’s schemes to degrade Medicare by cutting spending, reducing eligibility and privatizing services. KAFKA IN SEATTLE: Kristian Williams details the surreal ordeal of Matthew Duran, thrown into federal prison even though prosecutors admit he committed no crime.
Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Charles Larson
Tango Bends Its Gender” Carolina De Robertis’s “The Gods of Tango”
July 30, 2015
Bill Blunden
The NSA’s 9/11 Cover-Up: General Hayden Told a Lie, and It’s a Whopper
Richard Ward
Sandra Bland, Rebel
Jeffrey St. Clair
How One Safari Nut, the CIA and Neoliberal Environmentalists Plotted to Destroy Mozambique
Martha Rosenberg
Tracking the Lion Killers Back to the Old Oval Office
Binoy Kampmark
Dead Again: the Latest Demise of Mullah Omar
Kathy Kelly – Buddy Bell
No Warlords Need Apply: a Call for Credible Peacemaking in Afghanistan
Ramzy Baroud
Darker Horizons Ahead: Rethinking the War on ‘IS’
Stephen Lendman
The Show Trial of Saif Qaddafi: a Manufactured Death Sentence
John Grant
The United States of Absurdity, Circa 2015
Karl Grossman
The Case of John Peter Zenger and the Fight for a Free Press
Cesar Chelala
Cultural Treasures Are Also Victims of War
Jeff Taylor
Iowa Conference on Presidential Politics
July 29, 2015
Mike Whitney
The Politics of Betrayal: Obama Backstabs Kurds to Appease Turkey
Joshua Frank
The Wheels Fell Off the Bernie Sanders Bandwagon
Conn Hallinan
Ukraine: Close to the Edge
Stephen Lendman
What Happened to Ralkina Jones? Another Jail Cell Death
Rob Wallace
Neoliberal Ebola: the Agroeconomic Origins of the Ebola Outbreak
Dmitry Rodionov
The ‘Ichkerization’ Crime Wave in Ukraine
Joyce Nelson
Scott Walker & Stephen Harper: a New Bromance
Bill Blunden
The Red Herring of Digital Backdoors and Key Escrow Encryption
Thomas Mountain
The Sheepdog Politics of Barack Obama
Farzana Versey
A President and a Yogi: Abdul Kalam’s Symbolism
Norman Pollack
America’s Decline: Internal Structural-Cultural Subversion
Foday Darboe
How Obama Failed Africa
Cesar Chelala
Russia’s Insidious Epidemic
Tom H. Hastings
Defending Democracy
David Macaray
Why Union Contracts are Good for the Country
Virginia Arthur
The High and Dry Sierras
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, the Season Finale, Mekonception in Redhook
July 28, 2015
Mark Schuller
Humanitarian Occupation of Haiti: 100 Years and Counting
Lawrence Ware
Why the “Black Church” Doesn’t Exist–and Never Has
Peter Makhlouf
Israel and Gaza: the BDS Movement One Year After “Protective Edge”
Carl Finamore
Landlords Behaving Badly: San Francisco Too Valuable for Poor People*
Michael P. Bradley
Educating About Islam: Problems of Selectivity and Imbalance
Binoy Kampmark
Ransacking Malaysia: the Najib Corruption Dossier
Michael Avender - Medea Benjamin
El Salvador’s Draconian Abortion Laws: a Miscarriage of Justice
Jesse Jackson
Sandra Bland’s Only Crime Was Driving While Black
Cesar Chelala
Effect of Greece’s Economic Crisis on Public Health
Mel Gurtov
Netanyahu: An Enemy of Peace
Joseph G. Ramsey
The Limits of Optimism: E.L. Doctorow and the American Left
George Wuerthner
Bark Beetles and Forest Fires: Another Myth Goes Up in Smoke
Paul Craig Roberts - Dave Kranzler
Supply and Demand in the Gold and Silver Futures Markets
Eric Draitser
China’s NGO Law: Countering Western Soft Power and Subversion
Harvey Wasserman
Will Ohio Gov. Kasich’s Anti-Green Resume Kill His Presidential Hopes?