Ronnie Lee Gardner is Dead exclaimed one newspaper. What shocked me, was the method which was chosen by the condemned: firing squad. According to the Guardian, he told his daughter that the reason he chose this method was “I lived by the gun, I murdered with a gun, so I will die by the gun.”
For me, this method brings about images of the old west. The condemned standing in the middle of town. The unwashed towns people watching as 5 men raise their rifles and fire.
How it works is normally there are 5 shooters, one armed with a blank round so everyone can take comfort in the fact that they may not be the one firing that lethal blow. However, sometimes (rarely) a 6th shooter is required to administer the final shot to put the accused out of their misery. While this method is not the most technologically advanced, let’s look at two positives of it. It preserves the organs for donations—well, other than the heart and it is the cheapest form of capital punishment.
Other than the slight risk that one of the 5 bullets will not hit the heart (meaning someone is not as accurate as they are supposed to be), there is little risk that the shots will not be deadly. The same can not be said for other forms of execution. According to the Associated Press, “University of Colorado law professor Michael Radlet has been tracking botched executions in the U.S. and found some 42 cases that went wrong between 1982 and September 2009. Of those executions, 30 were lethal injection, 10 were electrocution and two were from asphyxiation after exposure to lethal gas.” Who says technology is always good? 4 bullets, aimed at the heart. Fire. Death. What could be simpler? We try to hard to make everything humane but we forget to look at why these people are on death row to begin with. Murder. The taking of a life. An innocent life, usually. And in our attempts to make the execution more humane we actually make it more difficult (which is usually how any government works anyway).
Let’s take lethal injection. It has the guise of being humane because it is a “medical procedure”. However, if the needle is not placed correctly in a vein, which has happened, or if there is difficulty in finding a vein, the pain can be extreme. Humane ? Cost of lethal drugs? $86.08. However, the overall cost including salary of the people involved, the phone in the room, the supplies for the drugs, etc…$30,000 +/- (from a few different sites dealing with the cost of executions).
Okay, electrocution. Sometimes a jolt of between 500 and 2000 volts doesn’t work the first time and only after the victim is checked to see if there is a heart beat do they do it again. I have been shocked. We all have. Can you imagine having that voltage running through your body more than once? And to top it all off “...the prisoner’s eyeballs sometimes pop out and rest on [his] cheeks. The prisoner often defecates, urinates, and vomits blood and drool. The body turns bright red as its temperature rises, and the prisoner’s flesh swells and his skin stretches to the point of breaking. Sometimes the prisoner catches fire….Witnesses hear a loud and sustained sound like bacon frying, and the sickly sweet smell of burning flesh permeates the chamber. (Ecenbarger, 1994)“. Humane ? Cost of this? $14,000-$16,000. (again, approximate from many sites).
Now the cost firing squad is harder to find mainly because only three people have been executed by firing squad since 1977, but presumably the cost are negligible. I mean, really, how much do bullets cost? Also the blood is funnelled into bags placed near the entry site so there is no messy clean up.
The idea of capital punishment is like, to put it rudely, fucking for virginity. We are killing someone because they killed someone to prove a point. Seems a little off to me. It is like teaching your child not to bite by biting them. Also, the idea of a humane form of execution is absurd. Were their actions humane to their victims?
I can’t say that I am for or against capital punishment. I don’t believe that if we are punishing people that it should be torturous. That is just lowering ourselves to their standards. It really shouldn’t cost a lot since it will be the taxpayers footing the bill. Cheapest is the best. Should it be humane? Well, yes, to a point, but should it be painless? Naaah. After all, what does capital punishment actually serve but our sadistic impulses.