Death Penalty States Consider Returning To Old-School Execution Methods

The death penalty is once again being debated as drug shortages and legal challenges are prompting lawmakers in several death penalty states to consider moving away from lethal injection and returning to old-school methods of execution, such as firing squads, electrocutions and gas chambers.

These methods, though sometimes still used in some states (in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, for example, prisoners may choose to die by electrocution; Arizona, Missouri and Wyoming allow for gas-chamber executions; Delaware, New Hampshire and Washington state still allow inmates to choose hanging; and death by firing squad is still on the books in Utah), were abandoned in the 1980s "in a bid to make capital punishment more palatable to the public and to a judicial system worried about inflicting cruel and unusual punishments that violate the Constitution."

But as Jim Salter of the Associated Press explains in a recent National Post article, there is now a shortage of lethal injection drugs as European drug makers who object to their products being used to kill refuse to sell lethal chemicals to US prisons.  In addition, questions are emerging about the drugs' effectiveness as it appears that death by lethal injection is not as quick or painless as we might have thought.
“This isn’t an attempt to time-warp back into the 1850s or the wild, wild West or anything like that,” said Missouri state Rep. Rick Brattin, who [...] proposed making firing squads an option for executions. “It’s just that I foresee a problem and I’m trying to come up with a solution that will be the most humane yet most economical for our state.”
For a short recap of the history and demographics of the United States’ death penalty, take a look at this National Post infographic:



Read more:
http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/01/29/old-school-executions-u-s-states-consider-return-to-firing-squads-electric-chairs-and-gas-chambers-for-death-penalty/
http://www.deathpenalty.org/
http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty

TeachingwithData.org resources:
The Death Penalty (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3114)
Frederique Laubepin

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