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posted by n1 on Monday March 16 2015, @05:36PM   Printer-friendly
from the killing-me-softly dept.

Matt Ford writes in The Atlantic that thanks to a European Union embargo on the export of key drugs, and the refusal of major pharmaceutical companies to sell them the nation’s predominant method of execution is increasingly hard to perform. With lethal injection’s future uncertain, some states are turning to previously discarded methods. The Utah legislature just approved a bill to reintroduce firing squads for executions, Alabama’s House of Representatives voted to authorize the electric chair if new drugs couldn’t be found, and after last years botched injection, Oklahoma legislators are mulling the gas chamber.

The driving force behind the creation and abandonment of execution methods is the constant search for a humane means of taking a human life. Arizona, for example, abandoned hangings after a noose accidentally decapitated a condemned woman in 1930. Execution is prone to problems as witnesses routinely report that, when the switch is thrown, the condemned prisoner "cringes," "leaps," and "fights the straps with amazing strength." The hands turn red, then white, and the cords of the neck stand out like steel bands. The prisoner's limbs, fingers, toes, and face are severely contorted. The force of the electrical current is so powerful that the prisoner's eyeballs sometimes pop out and "rest on [his] cheeks." The physical effects of the deadly hydrogen cyanide in the gas chamber are coma, seizures and cardiac arrest but the time lag has previously proved a problem. According to Ford one reason lethal injection enjoyed such tremendous popularity was that it strongly resembled a medical procedure, thereby projecting our preconceived notions about modern medicine—its competence, its efficacy, and its reliability—onto the capital-punishment system. "As states revert to earlier methods of execution—techniques once abandoned as backward and flawed—they run the risk that the death penalty itself will be seen in the same terms."

 
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  • (Score: 5, Informative) by gallondr00nk on Monday March 16 2015, @06:38PM

    by gallondr00nk (392) on Monday March 16 2015, @06:38PM (#158506)

    Carbon Monoxide too. Or a lethal dose of heroin/opiates, which is supposed to be an extremely blissful way of kicking the bucket.

    Humane execution isn't the issue, there are methods of killing someone painlessly. The fault seems to lie with pig headed legislators who want to "make an example" and thus introduce their own barbarity into the equation.

    I can't imagine the logic of people who want to wilfully inflict further suffering to people who are already condemned to death. Kill them painlessly and move the fuck on.

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  • (Score: 3, Flamebait) by VLM on Monday March 16 2015, @07:06PM

    by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 16 2015, @07:06PM (#158522)

    The fault seems to lie with pig headed legislators

    And the folks trying to get rid of the death penalty want it to be a horrific spectacle of torture, so we'll be sickened into banning the whole thing.

    You end up with both sides wanting some kind of horrific torture, for totally different reasons.

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 16 2015, @07:26PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 16 2015, @07:26PM (#158534)

      And the folks trying to get rid of the death penalty want it to be a horrific spectacle of torture, so we'll be sickened into banning the whole thing.

      Are you listening to yourself? The people who want to get rid of the thing want to get rid of the thing.
      *I* want to get rid of the thing and I *don't* want it to be a horrific spectacle of torture. I am against that kind of shit.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by NotSanguine on Tuesday March 17 2015, @02:25AM

        And the folks trying to get rid of the death penalty want it to be a horrific spectacle of torture, so we'll be sickened into banning the whole thing.

        Are you listening to yourself? The people who want to get rid of the thing want to get rid of the thing.
        *I* want to get rid of the thing and I *don't* want it to be a horrific spectacle of torture. I am against that kind of shit.

        I used to be of two minds about the death penalty. It is a fact that no convicted killer who has been sentenced to death and executed for their crime has ever killed anyone else.

        At the same time, if you wrongly convict someone and put them to death, you can't bring them back. Blackstone's Formulation [wikipedia.org] applies in spades here, IMHO.

        What is more, I can't speak for others but I think a lifetime spent mostly in an 8x10 cell, with every move regimented and controlled would be a much worse punishment than death.

        As such, I think that the death penalty should be abolished. I also don't think we should make a horrible spectacle of torture and death, either. Another murder, whether painless or agonizing (and the death penalty is murder -- state-sanctioned, but murder nonetheless) won't balance the scales of justice, and it make barbarians of those who engage in it.

        --
        No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
  • (Score: 4, Informative) by Kromagv0 on Monday March 16 2015, @07:27PM

    by Kromagv0 (1825) on Monday March 16 2015, @07:27PM (#158535) Homepage

    Or a lethal dose of heroin/opiates, which is supposed to be an extremely blissful way of kicking the bucket.

    This does remind me of one of the things I learned when my grandfather was dying. When a nurse or doctor asks "More morphine won't help, should I give them more morphine?" they are trying to provide a method to end someone's suffering in the least painful way. Often it is illegal for a doctor to suggest ending a patients life so it needs to be done in a coded manner. My father and one of my aunts who work in the medical field explained this to the rest of the family. My father has made it clear that if my sister and I are faced with a similar question from a doctor about him the answer is to be yes.

    --
    T-Shirts and bumper stickers [zazzle.com] to offend someone
  • (Score: 3, Informative) by PartTimeZombie on Tuesday March 17 2015, @01:55AM

    by PartTimeZombie (4827) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 17 2015, @01:55AM (#158693)

    We could just wait. The condemned person will die. Problem solved.

  • (Score: 2) by mojo chan on Tuesday March 17 2015, @08:26AM

    by mojo chan (266) on Tuesday March 17 2015, @08:26AM (#158786)

    Gas is dangerous though. Remember that no doctor will participate in an execution, so it has to be carried out by "technicians" who are basically idiots. They can cope with throwing a switch but ask them to handle a gas chamber safely... Chances are more than just the intended victim will be dying.

    --
    const int one = 65536; (Silvermoon, Texture.cs)
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @07:32PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @07:32PM (#159026)

      Not all gas is dangerous. Nitrogen in itself isn't harmful, remember that the air you breath is ~78% Nitrogen. It only becomes dangerous by displacing too much of the Oxygen that we actually need to breath, therefore doing it safely is just a matter of the operator following procedure to ensure the Nitrogen asphyxiation system is only activated when only the condemned person in the execution chamber, and also ensuring there is no way the Nitrogen can leek into other areas at dangerously high levels, and that is a solvable engineering problem (you could simply do this by building the execution chamber as a single room building so if any gas leeks it will leek into the outside air where it will harmlessly dissipate).