Death Penalty: The Quicker the Better?

A memory I have as a young child is watching a documentary on the death penalty with my dad. The program showed old black and white videos of firing squads carrying out executions and officials leading the condemned to gallows. It was pretty graphic stuff, especially for a kid. The documentary stayed with me and I grew up with a mild curiosity for the death penalty.

Yesterday in the paper, I read an editorial that was lifted from the Bloomberg View. The piece had a very interesting premise. It argued that modern execution methods such as lethal injection and the gas chamber are much more inhumane than other methods. If the goal is to be as humane as possible to death row inmates, the Bloomberg View states, then lawmakers should embrace options such as the guillotine and firing squad to end life. The quicker the better. The author says that a method such as lethal injection is used to make the process easier on executioners and bystanders, those who don’t want to see blood and guts. However, it increases the misery of the condemned.

I disagree.

I understand the Bloomberg View’s main point that an instant death is ideal, even if it means a nightmarish blood bath. However, I can’t come to grips with it. First off, I don’t think lethal injection or the gas chamber are that inhumane. Yes, there have been a couple cases where the execution didn’t go according to plan and the condemned didn’t die right away. However, that is the exception. In most cases, the process is flawless and a quick death is achieved.

But what I disagree with much more is that the condemned would prefer a primitive death over a more modern execution solely because the end result might take a couple less seconds. The piece believes that only the living would receive relief from the absence of decapitation. For me personally, if I knew I was going to be put to death I much rather depart the world fully intact as opposed to in pieces.

Thinking about having my head chopped off makes me sick. How awful would that be if my family was given my remains in two boxes? Or what peace would I find knowing that my vital organs/head/throat were about to be blown up by a firing squad? It makes me very uneasy and it also makes me feel very much for my family. I would take a couple of “Mississippi” counts if it meant that I would look like I had just fallen asleep as opposed to if I was butchered.

Give me the injection over the head chop any day. Maybe I care too much about the condition of a corpse, after all I don’t care for cremation, but I also have family in mind as well. I am not here to argue for or against the death penalty but rather to answer the hypothetical question about best execution method. In my opinion, a two second death is not necessarily the best or most humane way to go, especially if it means losing your head. Don’t Blink.

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