Federal Judge: Use Firing Squads, Not Lethal Injections
Don't pretend killing isn't brutal, Kozinski says
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 22, 2014 3:21 AM CDT
This photo provided by the Arizona Department of Corrections shows inmate Joseph Rudolph Wood.    (AP Photo/Arizona Department of Corrections)

(Newser) – Killing people is a brutal and messy business, and if Americans can't deal with that, they shouldn't be condemning people to death, a top federal judge says. In a strongly worded dissent in an Arizona lethal-injection case, Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals, calls the current system "inherently flawed" and says states that want to execute inmates should return to more "primitive—and foolproof—methods" of execution, NBC reports. "The guillotine is probably best but seems inconsistent with our national ethos," he writes. "And the electric chair, hanging, and the gas chamber are each subject to occasional mishaps. The firing squad strikes me as the most promising. Eight or 10 large-caliber rifle bullets fired at close range can inflict massive damage, causing instant death every time."

Kozinski says the switch to lethal injections in the '70s was misguided, the Guardian reports. "Subverting medicines meant to heal the human body to the opposite purpose was an enterprise doomed to failure," he writes, adding that drugs are used "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." Kozinski was dissenting against a decision to delay the execution of Joseph Wood, who shot his estranged girlfriend and her father to death in 1989. "While I believe the state should and will prevail in this case, I don't understand why the game is worth the candle," the judge wrote.

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Jul 26, 2014 5:18 PM CDT
End capital punishment. Take the prisons back from corrupt corporation control and do away with prisoner quotas. Release all non violent prisoners immediately into a short term rehab/reintegration to society program, and institute violent prisoner work gangs to build and repair national roads, parks and bridges. It worked before, it will work again.
Jul 23, 2014 11:39 AM CDT
The ancient Greeks had a pretty good handle on executions. 2,413 years ago the Council of Athens sentenced Socrates to death for "corrupting the minds of Athens youths". They gave Socrates his choice of method of death. Socrates chose a hemlock cocktail.
Jul 23, 2014 1:51 AM CDT
While I have to agree with the judges perspective about society needing be honest with itself about what is actually happening, why does it have to be death by a historical method or be destructively gruesome and bloody? I may be missing some information, but it would seem to me that the deeply sedated condemned slumbering off to eternity in a high altitude decompression chamber or to the dark resolution of carbon monoxide would be humane, cost effective, and, reliable. I don't know what's so hard to figure out about this question.