Sunday, May 24, 2015

Bring Back the Firing Squad

The needle spares the witnesses, not the condemned
I USED TO REPRESENT inmates on California’s death row. Their innocence was not an issue. My clients had committed horrific crimes. True to cliche, however, the process of a killer becoming a client — by letters, phone calls, contact with family members, and face-to-face meetings — humanizes them, no matter what they’ve done. And that is why, if we are going to use the death penalty, I support using firing squads instead of lethal injections.
As Judge Alex Kozinski, a pro-death penalty judge on the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, noted in an essay, “We mask the most violent act that society can inflict on one of its members with such an antiseptic veneer. Isn’t death by firing squad, with mutilation and bloodshed, more honest?”
I’d add something else — shooting someone to death is more humane than execution by drugs. Inmates facing the firing squad die within one minute. Executions by lethal injection, when they work, can take up to nine minutes. When they don’t work — which is now the rule, not the exception — inmates have been known to gasp in pain for as many as three hours before cardiac arrest.
Charles Brooks Execution in Texas 1982.
In 1982, Texas became the first state to use a three-drug death “cocktail,” combining a sedative, paralytic, and a heart-stopper. All states and the federal government quickly followed suit, on the basis that this was a more civilized way to end a life. But there have long been problems with these death cocktails and now — more than 30 years after their introduction — debate over lethal injections finally is reaching a crescendo.
For starters, the paralytic’s only purpose is to ease the discomfort of the witnesses to an execution — not the inmate — by preventing thrashing and convulsing. When the sedative is not properly administered, it becomes ineffective.
Link to 2014 Botched Executions
In many states, medical personnel are neither involved in inserting the IV lines nor do they have a say in determining the amount of each drug in the cocktail mixture. It’s not uncommon for a corrections officer with little or no training to be unable to find a vein. And even in states that include doctors in the execution process, the doctor is never an anesthesiologist and is not in the same room as the inmate.
Read the rest of this op-ed HERE.

If you like what you see, please "Like" us on Facebook either here or here. Please follow us on Twitter here.

No comments: