Humane ExecutionsJuly 29, 2014 at 5:17 pm | Posted in Brain and mind, Crime and punishment, Fairness, Judicial Misjudgment, Terrorism | 1 Comment
Tags: bullet, cervical collar, Charles Lane, Clayton Lockett, death penalty, Editors of the Washington Post, ethical, Eugene Robinson, executed, execution, Fairness, humane, Joseph R. Wood III, lethal injection, moral, neck brace
Execution by lethal chemical cocktails has recently become more difficult. Some of the makers of the required chemicals refuse to sell them for that purpose. The remaining makers desire anonymity, to avoid becoming the target of protests. Worse, some of the recent chemical executions have been botched, and seem to have produced drawn-out painful deaths.
All of these problems could be eliminated by returning to an older technique: death by bullet.
But the shooting should not be performed by a firing squad. Too many things can go wrong with a firing squad.
Instead, use a device that softly but firmly holds fixed the head and chest of the condemned. A commercially available cervical collar might be one part of the device. The condemned should be lying horizontally, face up, unable to move, on a special table having a soft surface.
The execution would be carried out by one or more gunshots from behind the head.
The gun could be fired by either a person or a computer. Computer-controlled firing would be less subject to mistakes. Sensors viewing the vicinity of the condemned could provide signals to the the computer so that the gun could fire only when no other person was in the line of fire.
Note: The general design described above is hereby released into the public domain by thepoliblog.WordPress.com. It is not patentable.
That covers the how. What about the why?
As long as the death penalty is imposed fairly, its morality is clear. We kill mad dogs, attacking wild animals, and armed enemy soldiers. We kill terrorists. We kill madmen and criminals who try to kill the police, and madmen who attack the public. We kill cancers. No matter how morally advanced we become, we will always regard such killing as justified.
But can the death penalty be imposed fairly?
Some claim that the death penalty can never be imposed fairly on an individual who is now under our control. Why not treat such a person as a prisoner of war? Why not restrain them instead of killing them? Why not try to rehabilitate them? These are difficult questions which I hope to address in a later posting. But for the present, recall that we do not use these alternatives for mad dogs. Recall that the intrinsic dignity of human beings may be a too-sweeping and vaguely founded concept, and likewise for the concept of free will. And recall that many innocents have been killed by seemingly reformed but unreformed parolees: different person’s brains are wired differently.
On these matters I have to agree with Charles Lane, and have to disagree with Eugene Robinson, who is usually one of the most insightful analyzers of public issues, and with the Editors of the Washington Post.
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