There’s more than one way to kill a cat – and bad buggers, too – as US prisons run short of lethal drugs

Alf is partial to a good fry-up.

The good people of Tennessee like one too. They are planning on bringing back the electric chair to replace lethal injections.

Tennessee has 74 prisoners on death row. The authorities could run up a fair-sized power bill by the time they get through that lot

Wyoming and Utah are considering the return of firing squads.

The Supreme Court has upheld the legality of the firing squad in 1879, the electric chair in 1890 and lethal injection in 2008.

Wonder if anyone is thinking about the guillotine, the gallows, burning at the stake or – a bit bloodier but once deemed appropriate for bad buggers in England who had committed high treason- hanging, drawing and quartering.

William de Marisco is drawn to his execution.

William de Marisco is drawn to his execution.

Convicts were fastened to a hurdle, or wooden panel, and drawn by horse to the place of execution, where they were hanged (almost to the point of death), emasculated, disembowelled, beheaded and quartered (chopped into four pieces). Their remains were often displayed in prominent places across the country, such as London Bridge. For reasons of public decency, women convicted of high treason were instead burned at the stake.

The need to find alternative means of executing felons has been triggered by a shortage of lethal injection drug supplies.

A certain squeamishness about lethal injections is coming into considerations, too, after last month’s botched execution in Oklahoma where inmate Clayton Lockett’s vein apparently collapsed and he suffered a fatal heart attack 43 minutes after the process began.

An account of American efforts to executive bad buggers – and some innocent ones, now and again – can be found here, in the Daily Mail.

Tennessee has brought back the electric chair and both Wyoming and Utah are considering the use of firing squads, according to reports.

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam signed a bill into law Thursday allowing Tennessee to electrocute death row inmates when prisons are unable to obtain the necessary drugs, the state announced.

This is curiously described in the Daily Mail report as a “drastic measure”, just the first of what may be many because European drug makers – a nambhy-pamby lot, apparently – are refusing to sell the cocktail of drugs normally used to execute death row inmates.

Tennessee lawmakers overwhelmingly passed the electric chair legislation in April, with the Senate voting 23-3 and the House 68-13 in favor of the bill.

The Volunteer State is also the first in the nation to bring the electric chair back into use without giving condemned inmates the option of an alternative method, according to Richard Dieter, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.

‘There are states that allow inmates to choose, but it is a very different matter for a state to impose a method like electrocution,’ he said. ‘No other state has gone so far.’

Dieter said he expects legal challenges to arise if the state decides to go through with an electrocution, both on the grounds of whether the state could prove that lethal injection drugs were not obtainable and constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment.

Meanwhile the states of Wyoming and Utah are mulling over whether to bring back sharp shooters to carry out death sentences.

Wyoming law requires a gas chamber to be used should no lethal injection drugs be available but the state has no gas chamber

A Wyoming legislative committee has begun drawing up a bill that would allow firing squads to rid the state – and the world – of its evil-doers (and maybe some innocent buggers now and again, but we can put that down to collateral damage).

Bob Lampert, director of the Wyoming Department of Corrections, told members of the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Interim Judiciary Committee the state has completely run out of the lethal injection drugs, and suggested an alternate method of executing inmates.

‘In the event that we had an execution scheduled and we couldn’t carry it out as a result of lack of substances, I suggested to the Joint Judiciary that we may want to consider having an alternate means of execution, such as the firing squad,’ he said.

Wyoming has only one inmate on death row at the minute, a felon by name of Dale Wayne Eaton, who reportedly was convicted in 2004 of the brutal 1988 sexual assault and murder of a teenage woman.

But Wyoming authorities are not rushing this in quite the same way as our Parliament rushed through a tidy-up of the legal-high laws.

A vote is said to be unlikely on the measure until July, during the state’s next legislative meeting.

In Utah, a Republican legislator by name of Paul Ray is also planning to float the idea later this year of bringing firing squad deaths back to the state.

‘It sounds like the Wild West, but it’s probably the most humane way to kill somebody,’ said Ray.

The last firing squad death in Utah involved five police officers using .30-caliber Winchester rifles in 2010 to execute convicted murderer Ronnie Lee Gardner.

He had opted to be killed by firing squad rather than lethal injection.

‘The prisoner dies instantly,’ Ray insisted. ‘It sounds draconian. It sounds really bad, but the minute the bullet hits your heart, you’re dead. There’s no suffering.’

Not always.

Alf’s fascination with this subject led him to an article on 10 “horrifically botched” executions.

One of them involved Ginggaew Lorsoungnern for her role in the kidnapping and death of a six-year-old boy in Thailand.

She was sentenced to death by shooting, an execution in which the condemned prisoner in that country was tied to a wooden cross, with their hands bound in a praying position and their bodies facing a wall.

Alf will spare you the details lest you have just eaten your lunch.

Suffice to say ten bullets were consecutively fired but while the condemned woman was being checked for signs of life she began to utter sounds and attempted to sit up.

Eventually she was tied back on to the cross, 15 more bullets were put into her body and she was mercifully pronounced dead.

Among the reasons for the botched execution, her heart happened to be on the right side of her body instead of the left.

2 Responses to There’s more than one way to kill a cat – and bad buggers, too – as US prisons run short of lethal drugs

  1. Dave Kennedy says:

    Some of that collateral damage…

    An appalling post, Alf.

  2. Alf Grumble says:

    When Alf said we can put innocent deaths down to collateral damage, he wasn’t arguing we should put it down to that. He was merely mindful that American authorities tend to be cavalier about these things and have long since blissfully brushed off the deaths of innocent people from their military actions as “collateral damage”. They are just as cavalier about the integrity of their justice system (as the post cited by Dave Kennedy illustrates).

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