Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

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."

 
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by GungnirSniper on Monday March 16 2015, @06:50PM

    by GungnirSniper (1671) on Monday March 16 2015, @06:50PM (#158514) Journal

    How long is it acceptable to abuse someone already condemned? What's the difference between your stance and say, stoning? Is two minutes of agony better than five? Or ten?

    Remember the methods used affect the inflictors, which is why executioners were traditionally drawn from the poorer classes.

    Starting Score:    1  point
    Moderation   +1  
       Interesting=1, Total=1
    Extra 'Interesting' Modifier   0  
    Karma-Bonus Modifier   +1  

    Total Score:   3  
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by edIII on Monday March 16 2015, @08:12PM

    by edIII (791) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 16 2015, @08:12PM (#158554)

    Remember the methods used affect the inflictors, which is why executioners were traditionally drawn from the poorer classes.

    A very interesting point, not yet made by anyone else. IMO, all the more reason to choose something very peaceful like some of the ideas suggested. Michael Jackson's sleepy-time-juice was good enough for the King Of Pop, it might just do for the ax murderer as well. I would imagine that the easier the method; the lesser impact on the executioners.

    Don't forget, we also create methods of execution whereby it's not possible to know for certain that you delivered the execution yourself. All that exists was a probability that you executed a criminal, not a certainty. Nothing can remove one's involvement in such a horrific thing completely, but whatever can be done, should be done.

    Either that, or we accept that we will need to treat such people humanely for the rest of their lives and not bitch about those costs in our taxes.

    How long is it acceptable to abuse someone already condemned? What's the difference between your stance and say, stoning? Is two minutes of agony better than five? Or ten?

    This seems somewhat nonsensical, or unrelated to what was said by the OP. Other than the knowledge of certain and imminent death from the point of sentencing to actual execution, what other abuses exist other than the abuse of imprisonment? The facts of execution cannot be made hidden to a convicted person, so what you are suggesting seems straight out of Two Days In The Valley where the condemned get exactly 60 seconds. The abuse that may occur, is hardly abuse IMO. The condemned must be made to understand that they are going to die, and for what reasons. If they are completely incapable of understanding such a thing, then we really need to ask why we are still going through with it at all with a mentally challenged person.

    Unless you are talking about the actual method of execution itself, it's duration, the experience of the condemned, etc. You already made the point of what it does to us, and especially the executioners. As far as I am concerned, the idea of the condemned being put into a medically induced coma for the witnesses to the execution, and then removing the body for "final" execution is perfectly fine. At that point, even stoning doesn't matter anymore. Harsh words might actually be worse in a comatose state for all we know. Either way, the options for the final process are quite large. The condemned experiences nothing as far as know medically. Nothing else is actually required other than 100% nitrogen in a small chamber for 10 minutes or so. Straight from there to be cremated, or the body is returned to family for their burial customs.

    We can't get around the actual experience of the condemned including the knowledge of their death, and the actual drifting off to sleep with the knowledge that they will not wake up this time. Neither can we pull the "Chinese" method (really just what I heard, maybe not true), of the condemned not knowing the day, or even moment of the execution. Life like somewhat normal, just 100x times faster in terms of lifespan.

    For me, the point of removing freedom and putting someone in places like these is rehabilitation . Of which, we are nearly complete failures at in the US. If we feel so strongly that someone cannot be rehabilitated, or that or desires for revenge/justice are too great, the only option left is death. Australia was the last "option" we had, and it just ended up turning into a country. So if death is our choice, then it must be swift. Nothing more than a couple of days at most, as we are only wasting our time and money, and sanity.

    The only reason it cannot be "a couple of days at most", is the shocking truth that we simply don't have that level of confidence in our judicial system and chains of custody for evidence. Executing innocent people is simply intolerable, as they were innocent, and not even offered the route of rehabilitation. A man that has sodomized a small child has a better, or even certain, chance of leaving prison than an innocent man found guilty of shooting a store clerk at a 7-11. Since I'm not afforded any reasonable level of certainty that he did it, or sufficient for me to agree to death, the only options left is rehabilitation or life in a prison. Lifers should be kept separately.

    Finally, there *is* a racial problem with the death penalty, and far too many black men have been vindicated and released from death row. We simply don't have enough integrity, or an unblemished track record, to be playing around with something as serious and final as a death penalty for our citizens. This is why I support the notion of a death penalty, but wish that it is forbidden in practice till such time that we can properly reform the judicial system, and throw out all the trash and criminals in the LEOs. For those arguing for the victim's families, they only argue for revenge, hence the appeals to emotion. Justice does not exist when we execute somebody, as nothing is truly balanced or made right. Only the practicality that we made a real measurable increase in our state of security at the expense of a life.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by tftp on Monday March 16 2015, @10:12PM

      by tftp (806) on Monday March 16 2015, @10:12PM (#158603) Homepage

      Assuming that the convicted person is guilty:

      Either that, or we accept that we will need to treat such people humanely for the rest of their lives and not bitch about those costs in our taxes.

      What makes you think that a being who committed a horrible crime (to deserve death sentence) is a human? What is your criteria of being a human? Carrying human genes? Being equipped with human brain? Using the said brain to think like humans think?

      We do put animals down for a number of reasons; the most popular reason is that we want to eat them. This does not create opposition in the ranks of people who dislike death penalty. It means that they don't think cows are humans - even though an average cow is far better than an average serial killer. Perhaps the society should carefully define what a human is before it starts applying human standards to subjects that are on trial.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @04:35AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @04:35AM (#158735)

        What makes you think that a being who committed a horrible crime (to deserve death sentence) is a human?

        Ah, they must be extraterrestrial beings taking the form of humans, then. Thanks for clearing that up.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @03:12PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @03:12PM (#158903)

        What makes you think that a being who committed a horrible crime (to deserve death sentence) is a human?

        First, a correction: "… a being who is thought to have committed a horrible crime ..." After all, there's no court that cannot err.

        Second: What makes me think that being is a human? Well, that being certainly looks like a human, and unlike any other species. But when really in doubt, I think a DNA test should give a definitive answer.

    • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Monday March 16 2015, @11:04PM

      by bob_super (1357) on Monday March 16 2015, @11:04PM (#158623)

      > Don't forget, we also create methods of execution whereby it's not possible to know for certain that you delivered the execution yourself.
      > All that exists was a probability that you executed a criminal, not a certainty. Nothing can remove one's involvement in such a horrific thing
      > completely, but whatever can be done, should be done.

      Right, it's not like they had hundreds of applicants last time they talked about a firing squad...
      http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/06/09/utah.firing.squad/ [cnn.com]

      Also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment [wikipedia.org]
      The state tells you to execute a Very Very Bad Monster, not a poor guys you just met. What are the odds?