In the wake of the botched execution of Joseph Wood in Arizona, the chief judge of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that states executing prisoners should stop trying to mask the “brutality” of killing prisoners with a chemical cocktail and should return to more “foolproof” methods like the firing squad.
In an interview reported by the SF Gate, Judge Alex Kozinski said protracted lethal injections “undermines the idea that this is a fast, sure procedure, like putting animals to sleep.”
Kozinski, who was appointed to the bench in 1985 by President Ronald Reagan and who favors the death penalty, believes that states should stop trying to mask the horror of taking a life.
In a brutally frank opinion issued on Monday, Kozinski wrote that lethal injections are a “misguided effort to mask the brutality of executions by making them look serene and peaceful—like something any one of us might experience in our final moments. But executions are, in fact, nothing like that. They are brutal, savage events, and nothing the state tries to do can mask that reality. Nor should it.”
Kozinski suggested using the guillotine, but dismissed the device as “inconsistent with our national ethos,” before advocating bringing back the firing squad.
“If some states and the federal government wish to continue carrying out the death penalty, they must turn away from this misguided path and return to more primitive—and foolproof—methods of execution. The guillotine is probably best but seems inconsistent with our national ethos. And the electric chair, hanging and the gas chamber are each subject to occasional mishaps, ” he wrote. ” The firing squad strikes me as the most promising. Eight or ten large-caliber rifle bullets fired at close range can inflict massive damage, causing instant death every time. There are plenty of people employed by the state who can pull the trigger and have the training to aim true…”
Kozinski added, “If we, as a society, cannot stomach the splatter from an execution carried out by firing squad then we shouldn’t be carrying out executions at all.”
Currently the firing squad is only used in Utah and Oklahoma, but not as the primary method of execution.
The last American prisoner executed by firing squad was Ronnie Lee Garner in Utah on June 15, 2010. Garner chose death by firing squad in accordance with his Mormon faith which calls for ‘blood atonement,’ the spilling of blood to pay for a sin.
[Firing squad on Shutterstock]