Zacarias Moussaoui received a life sentence with no chance of parole for his role in the 9/11 attacks. Good for us. Rather than respond to this tragedy with more death, we’ve shown the world that a nation of laws does not have to resort to increased killing to seek justice. He’ll be behind bars for life – perhaps much of it in solitary confinement. And I’m sure that Mr. Moussaoui will receive plenty of punishment if he ever gets out of solitary confinement and has a chance to mingle with other guests at prison. Life in prison for this middle-aged man will be a long, lonely, and gruelling punishment – and will not grant him martyr status in the radical world of Islamic terrorism.
On the other hand, the folks at Ohio’s death chamber had problems killing a prisoner (see Reuters article here). "It’s not working," the man slated for execution told them when they tried to posion him with lethal chemicals. Officials closed the curtain to the viewing gallery and fixed the intravenus (I guess it’s OK to watch a man die, but it’s not OK watch a state employee thread an intravenus line into a prisoner’s veins for purposes of death). Eventually the bungling Buckeye State executioners were successful, and Joseph Clark was dead.
"Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."
– Amendment VIII, Constitution of the United State of America, ratified December 15, 1791