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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: 3, Informative) by looorg on Monday March 16 2015, @08:03PM

    by looorg (578) on Monday March 16 2015, @08:03PM (#158550)

    One export embargo from Europe shouldn't really stop justice. There should be a near endless amount of really toxic substances we can inject, ingest or absorb in some other fashion. A massive overdose of almost anything will end you.

    Alternatively one could go back to more simple solutions. One really shouldn't have to over-think or over-engineer something as simple as death -- KISS should apply even to this.

    * Hanging works and the science behind it seems quite solid and have been know for centuries, considering the amount of success vs botched hangings this seems like a viable option. If hangings botch it usually seems to come down to the hangman being an ass and an idiot and that he did something wrong.

    * Single gunshot to the brain stem (back of the head or neck) should result in catastrophic damage and instant death, probably somewhat messy.

    I doubt the US is ever going to run out of guns, bullets and rope so they should both work indefinitely.

    If one wants to get more technical and build a machine there is always the Guillotine. Developed to be humane, fast and effective. It is fast, nearly or as close to instant one can get. I would assume it's basically painless since death is instant and there would most likely be a massive systemic shock to the body. The drawback I guess is that it's somewhat messy as the blood blood gushes out of body. But if you build a modern machine perhaps there could be some kinda technical solution to that.

    If some state or government, for some unknown reason, wants to bring back the public spectacle of public executions I doubt you could go wrong with beheading or hanging. Not that I would personally like to witness it -- Being fine with capital punishment is not the same as I would want it to be viewed as some kinda of weekend afternoon entertainment.

    Regarding the witness reports of gruesome executions and botched attempts I just have to conclude that people, in general, these days are just not accustomed to viewing death. They are reading things into what they are seeing that are not really there, they see what they want to see and interpret it after what they believe is happening.

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  • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Monday March 16 2015, @09:28PM

    by Freeman (732) on Monday March 16 2015, @09:28PM (#158586) Journal

    The Guillotine while effective may not be remotely humane. [] Who knows for sure though as you can't ask the criminal / victim anything after the fact. Decapitation is pretty final . . .

    Forced Microsoft Account for Windows Login → Switch to Linux.
    • (Score: 3, Touché) by bob_super on Monday March 16 2015, @10:54PM

      by bob_super (1357) on Monday March 16 2015, @10:54PM (#158619)

      Then perform general anesthesia before you decapitate them. I'm pretty sure that if you can replace someone's heart without waking them up, you should be able to put them to sleep long enough to get their head chopped off.

      • (Score: 3, Funny) by aristarchus on Monday March 16 2015, @11:17PM

        by aristarchus (2645) on Monday March 16 2015, @11:17PM (#158631) Journal

        Then perform general anesthesia before you decapitate them.

        "This is going to sting a little . . . "

        Die Republikkkanische Partei isst die weissvolken partei.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @03:48AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @03:48AM (#158722)

      I'm pretty sure that the point is to be final. It wouldn't be much of an execution if the victim is still around!