South Carolina Ready To Execute People With Firing Squads Now

Criminal Justice System
Looney Tunes firing squad

In 2011, the European Union took a stand against the death penalty in the United States by banning pharmaceutical companies from importing several drugs meant to be used for lethal injections. Since then, rather than just give up, states have scrambled to find other ways of killing people in order to show people that killing people is wrong.

In Arizona, lawmakers decided to ask death row inmates to BYOED (bring your own execution drugs) if they don't want to suffer through botched executions like the one inmate Joseph Wood went through in 2014. Thanks to an experimental formula the state came up with, it took Wood two hours to die as he struggled to breathe like "a fish gulping for air" and was “gasping and snorting for more than an hour.”

Other states, desperate to continue this brutality, have turned to other methods of execution. On Friday night, after ten execution-free years, the state of South Carolina joined several others in officially reinstating firing squads as an option. The measure to introduce firing squads was introduced by Democratic state Sen. Dick Harpootlian, who claimed it was the "most humane" and "least painful" option. Though some of us might be able to come up with another.

“The death penalty is going to stay the law here for a while,” Harpootlian said. “If we’re going to have it, it ought to be humane.”

After spending over $50,000, the state revealed their newly revamped death chamber and fancy new firing squad protocols, all of which seem designed to make those carrying out the execution feel less bad about it.

Via NBC:

According to officials, the death chamber now also includes a metal chair, with restraints, in the corner of the room in which inmates will sit if they choose execution by firing squad. That chair faces a wall with a rectangular opening, 15 feet away, through which the three shooters will fire their weapons.

State officials also have created protocols for carrying out the executions. The three shooters, all volunteers who are employees of the Corrections Department, will have rifles loaded with live ammunition, with their weapons trained on the inmate’s heart.

A hood will be placed over the head of the inmate, who will be given the opportunity to make a last statement.
According to officials, Corrections spent $53,600 on the renovations.

The only reason we have the death penalty in a world where wrongful convictions exist is because it makes people feel good. As much as I hate that this is true, it makes a majority of Americans feel good. It makes them feel like justice is being done and that would-be-killers are deterred for fear of being killed themselves, and this makes them feel safe, whether or not those things are actually true.

And yet.

Firing squads, by their very nature, are an admission that the death penalty is wrong. If the death penalty were an unequivocal moral good, there would be no problem with one person walking up to a prisoner and just shooting them in the head — which, arguably, might be the more "humane" option. Hell, even a guillotine might be more humane, in terms of how much pain is felt by the prisoner. Firing squads exist specifically so that no one knows who fired the kill shot, so that people don't have that guilt hanging over their heads for the rest of their lives. Hoods are put over the heads of the prisoner's eyes so no one has to look at their face while they die.

If the death penalty is such a wonderful thing, then why would any of that be necessary?


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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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