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February 15, 2007

Cruel And Unusual Punishment?


As of October 2006, there were 3,344 people on death row. That number is rising: two days ago, two men from California got death sentences.

Yet the number of executions is dropping. Despite surveys showing that two-thirds of Americans support capital punishment, some states are reviewing their laws. Recently, courts have delayed several scheduled executions while judges determine if a poorly-administered lethal injection constitutes "cruel and unusual punishment."

Celeste Bacchi is a lawyer who represents people condemned to die. She remembers when she got the passion for this work - watching Gregory Peck play Atticus Finch in the movie "To Kill A Mockingbird. "

Celeste was one of Angel Diaz's lawyers. Diaz was sentenced to death, accused of shooting the manager of a strip club. He insisted he was innocent but was executed two months ago. His execution took twice as long as usual and required a second dose of lethal chemicals. Spectators said Diaz was squirming in his chair and asking, "What's taking so long?" 

Celeste talks to Dick Gordon about what happens behind the scenes in death penalty law. Her boss attended the Diaz execution.

He told me that it was one of the worst things he'd ever seen.  That it was very difficult to watch.  Mr. Diaz was struggling. He seemed to be gasping for breath.
- Celeste Bacchi


When you think about tough jobs, you may not automatically think about parking lot attendants. But it was recently reported that actor Omar Sharif pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery for a June 2005 brawl with a valet who refused to accept a tip in euros. In California, a man was sentenced to 50 years for killing a parking lot attendant during a robbery. Who are the people who take our money, and sometimes our attitude, when we exit parking lots? 

Tricia Lewis rings up parking tickets at a rural Michigan airport. Dick Gordon talks to Tricia about the 30 second talks she's had with hundreds of customers and the little (and big) things that make her job tough. 

A guy came from Vegas, and all he had left was the change in the bottom of his pickup truck … but he had to, like, dollar by dollar, count me out $32 in change.  He had it.  That was his savings account.  But I said maybe next time you could roll it up.  [He said:] 'No, I would have spent it!'
- Tricia Lewis


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