A federal appeals court judge said Thursday that a botched execution in Arizona this week showed the need for a more “foolproof” execution method, like firing squads.
“I’ve always thought executions should be executions, not medical procedures,” Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals told the Associated Press.
Kozinski, an appointee of President Ronald Reagan, told the AP that he thought lethal injections were a “dishonest” attempt to cover up the brutality of capital punishment. He said a properly trained firing squad, or even the guillotine, would be a “foolproof” way to execute an inmate without the complications lethal injections can pose — although Kozinski conceded that the public probably wouldn’t be comfortable with bringing back the guillotine.
Joseph Randolph Wood III was put to death by lethal injection on Wednesday. His lawyers said the condemned Arizona inmate gasped and snorted for more than an hour and a half during his nearly two-hour-long execution.
Kozinski had dissented from a Monday appeals court ruling that put Wood’s execution on hold, which was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. In his dissent, Kozinski wrote that “executions are, in fact, brutal, savage events, and nothing the state tries to do can mask that reality. Nor should we. If we as a society want to carry out executions, we should be willing to face the fact that the state is committing a horrendous brutality on our behalf.”
A Utah lawmaker, state Rep. Paul Ray (R) had also called for bringing back firing squads for criminals sentenced to death in his state following a botched lethal injection in Oklahoma earlier this year.
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at email@example.com.