Federal Judge: Firing Squads, Guillotine More ‘Foolproof’ In Executing Inmates

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.

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

Latest Livewire
Comments
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Reporters:
Newswriters:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: