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The Ultimate Painkiller



One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted; and a community is infinitely more brutalized by the habitual employment of punishment than it is by the occasional occurrence of crime.

-Oscar Wilde


Alva Campbell was scheduled for execution by the state of Ohio on November 15, 2017, for murder. Prison officials spent over an hour searching for veins to inject lethal drugs into his arms and legs to no avail and changed his death date to June 5, 2019. Romell Broom was scheduled for execution on September 15, 2009, by the state of Ohio for rape, murder and abduction. Prison officials spent over two hours searching for veins in his arms, hands and feet. Broom even offered to do physical activity to make his veins more visible. After the state’s failed execution attempt, Broom was left in pain from eighteen attempted IV line punctures. His legal team appealed calling it cruel and unusual punishment but lost, and Broom was issued a new sentence for execution on June 17, 2020. David Earl Miller was scheduled for execution by the state of Tennessee on December 7, 2018, for murder. He filed a lawsuit in which he asked to be killed by a firing squad, and lost. He then asked to be killed by lethal injection over the electric chair and lost. In the electric chair, Miller, who had served thirty-six years on death row-the longest in the state- offered his final thoughts on his looming death to surrounding security officials: “Beats being on death row.”


What would Jacques Derrida have thought about Campbell and Broom’s botched executions or the state’s refusal to grant Miller a quick death? Perhaps he’d think it inhumane. For D