So… Radley Balko (who makes it forthrightly clear throughout that he opposes the death penalty) favors the firing squad over lethal injection, on the grounds that it’s actually more humane to shoot somebody than to feed them a paralytic drug and then slowly let them die, in intense pain, for almost ten minutes. I actually agree with Radley on that; but one thing that he noted was…
If you support the death penalty, the most obvious benefit of the firing squad is that unlike lethal injection drugs, correctional institutions are never going to run out of bullets. And if they do, more bullets won’t be very difficult to find. Ammunition companies aren’t susceptible to pressure from anti-death penalty activists, at least not to the degree a pharmaceutical company might be. This would actually remove a barrier to more efficient executions. As someone who would like to see executions eliminated entirely, I don’t personally see this as a benefit. But death penalty supporters might.
As a death penalty supporter I do see it as a benefit – one of the reasons that lethal injections has gotten more awful as a procedure is thanks to the Law of Unintended Consequences (equipment/medical boycotts and the like, by well-meaning death penalty opponents) – but if we’re talking about cost… well. A rope can be reused. It would also raise even more hackles than a firing squad would, which is actually a good argument in its favor: I want people in this country to take executions seriously. I think that we spend too much time drawing out the process to execute people who deserve it, in order to compensate for the way that we make it possibly a little too easy to decide that people deserve to be executed. I would prefer a higher bar for making that decision, and a lower bar for implementing it. Which means that I’m probably doomed to be disappointed, sure.
Wouldn’t be the first time.
PS: I’m not an IS death cultist. If a man needs to die, then kill him quickly and kill him cleanly. Don’t make a spectacle out of it. Or, worse, a show.