Could You Just Kill for a Job?

Washington just can't seem to hold on to its professional killers. The state's lethal injection team resigned this week, apparently out of fear that their names would be leaked during a death row inmate's lawsuit.

Darold Stenson is arguing that the punishment is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual, and to help decide the case, the judge determined that the qualifications of the team members could be looked at as evidence. But then the team--all current or former Department of Corrections employees--quit. (Though none quit their main jobs with the DOC.)

Who'll replace them? DOC spokesperson Maria Peterson says it's not an urgent matter, as the state doesn't have anyone it urgently needs to kill: "Right now, there are no executions scheduled." The job does pay, she confirms, but she claims the amount is "confidential information." (Not sure how that jibes with the state's public disclosure laws.)

Still, back in the 1980s, when Bon Jovi was hot and Washington was also having trouble finding executioners--hangmen, back then--the going rate was around $1,500. A handy online inflation calculator says that's about $2,500 by 2007 standards. Of course, a hangman's just dealing with ropes and necks, not potent potions and needles, so maybe the price today would be even higher. All that for a quick night's work (albeit one that vets wouldn't use to put down a terminally ill pet.)

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