When we talk about capital punishment, lethal injection most likely comes to mind, as this is the most commonly used form of our highest consequence. However, there are other ways to get the job done, some naturally more humane than others.
In fact, this was why lethal injection began to be used by our government in the first place. One minute a heinous criminal is sitting or lying there, and in the next, he’s gone – all without pain, seizures, or any other visible form of discomfort.
However, in truth, that’s not precisely accurate. Yes, when done right, the method works quite well. But not all lethal injections work right. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, lethal injection as a death penalty actually has a rather alarming failure rate – at 7.1 percent.
And Austin Sarat, a jurisprudence professor at Amherst College, agrees. He cites that lethal injection, by far, has the highest error rating.
Therefore, the federal government is amending what is and isn’t allowed to end human life as a punishment via the Department of Justice. In fact, the change has already been made but doesn’t go into effect until December 24.
The new rule states, “Federal executions are to be carried out by lethal injection ‘or by any other manner prescribed by the law of the State in which the sentence was imposed.’”
No, the death penalty may very well still include lethal injection in many states. But for those who want a different option, there are options available.
So what will that look like for some states?
Well, it means things like execution by firing squad is now allowed. No doubt, some of you may think that sounds a bit inhumane. But would you rather have a criminal shot to death by several trained and very accurate riflemen or injected with a cocktail that only works part of the time and when it doesn’t can be very, very ugly, messy, and not to mention disturbing?
Talk about inhumane – which is precisely why the Death Penalty Information Center has pushed this change, believing that most forms of execution, firing squad included, are actually more humane than lethal injection. To put it quite simply, the odds of immediate and near painless death are much higher.
The same can also be said about a few other death penalty methods, including electrocution and inhalation of nitrogen gas.
Now, of course, some would wish to do away with the death penalty altogether, such as assumed president-elect Joe Biden.
According to his campaign press secretary, Biden “opposes the death penalty now and in the future.” He added that he would likely try to abolish it at some point. However, as usual, Biden wasn’t very detailed in if he would actually do so while in office or even pause currently scheduled federal executions.
Biden’s assumed vice president Kamala Harris is another who says she disagrees with the death penalty. But upon closer inspection, we can see this is really only because of racial bias.
When Harris was attorney general for the state of California, she had no problem with the death penalty. In fact, she actually fought reasonably hard to keep it in play in the state, although she never actually used it.
However, once she reached the Democratic presidential primary stage in 2019, she reversed that decision, saying that it was “immoral, discriminatory, ineffective, and a gross misuse of taxpayer dollars.” She claimed that blacks, Latinos, and other minority voters were more likely to be executed than whites, so it had to be wrong.
Of course, this was all a ruse to get to the White House by gaining more votes. So who knows what she actually believes.
On the other hand, President Donald Trump is a firm believer that the penalty works and, in some cases, is more than deserved. Cases involving the murder of law enforcement is such an instance.
In 2018, when speaking at a Missouri pro-law enforcement event, Trump stated, “We believe the right punishment for all cop killers is called the death penalty.” He added that while some believed the whole issue to be controversial, it’s quite simple when it comes to the murder of police. “You kill a cop, and it’s called the death penalty, OK.”
And if that death penalty comes by firing squad, so be it.