If the Word Fits

In last Tuesdays’ Tennessean (Nov. 13), an article debuted Oxford Dictionary’s “Word of the Year.” Given Britain’s ongoing media debacles and its government’s notable 2012 gaffes, this year’s word is “omnishambles.”

Oxford University Press defines this word as, “a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, characterized by a string of blunders and miscalculations.”  Upon reading this definition, I could not think of a better word to describe the state of our nation’s current death penalty system: omnishambles.

Innocent people sentenced to death. Rampant racial and class bias. Exorbitant amounts of taxpayer dollars wasted. Ineffective attorneys. Executions of individuals with severe mental illness. Victims’ families waiting decades for the promise of an execution.  Disproportionate sentencing. Coerced confessions. Faulty eyewitness identification.  Withheld evidence–omnishambles.

I hope in the near future when I think of the death penalty system and all its failings, another word will come to mind–history.

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