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June 9, 2010

"Executioner: Death by firing squad is '100 percent justice'"

The title of this post is the headline of this interesting new piece at CNN based on an interview with a member of the last firing squad used in Utah in 1996 to execute a convicted murderer.  Here is a snippet:

The former firing squad member asked not to be named, as he remains a law enforcement officer in the state. The man he helped execute, John Albert Taylor, was sentenced to death for killing an 11-year-old girl in 1989. Charla Nicole King had been sexually assaulted. A telephone cord was wrapped around her neck -- three times, her mother told authorities. She knew because she counted as she unwound it, trying to revive her daughter The officer agreed to recount his experience because he believes in the death penalty -- and thinks the firing squad method is plagued by misconceptions.

It is not like the scenes depicted in movies, with a condemned man tied to a stake and smoking a last cigarette before being riddled with bullets in a gruesome spectacle. Instead, he says over coffee, toast with grape jelly and an omelet, the process is instantaneous and carried out with the utmost professionalism. "It was anti-climactic," he says. "Another day at the office."

He has brought with him a stack of photos from Taylor's autopsy, including one of the man's heart, blown into three pieces.

Does he have any lingering effects from his role in the execution? "I've shot squirrels I've felt worse about," he says. He volunteered to participate, he said, and would do so again, given the opportunity. "There's just some people," he says, "we need to kick off the planet."

The officer remembers feeling a sense of responsibility that day, as he awaited the countdown to fire at Taylor, strapped into a chair 17 feet away with a target pinned to his chest. He remembers telling himself, "Don't (expletive) this up."

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June 9, 2010 at 07:27 PM | Permalink


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"Does he have any lingering effects from his role in the execution? 'I've shot squirrels I've felt worse about," he says. He volunteered to participate, he said, and would do so again, given the opportunity. 'There's just some people,' he says, 'we need to kick off the planet.'"

I second the motion.

Posted by: federalist | Jun 9, 2010 8:08:41 PM

The first to go must be the 15,000 strong lawyer hierarchy, in out of control insurrection against our constitution, and seeking to plunder our lawyer besieged nation. They have a strangle hold on the government, and now make 99% of policy decisions. They are the most powerful and wealthiest criminal syndicate in the world, and protect all other criminal syndicates from immediate eradication. This includes the lawyer immunized organized crime bosses who lead many nation states with catastrophic consequences to their peoples and high risks to us. This treasonous hierarchy saved the lives of the leaders of the Taliban, and of Al Qaeda. They are the cause of 9/11 and of every social and economic problem the nation faces, this includes educational failure, rampant bastardy, the setting of social standards and agendas by vile freaks and feminists, the end of the black and soon of the white family.

Then we can get rid of the million ultra-violent criminals making life unbearable for millions of poor folks. The base economic growth rate can then be the more proper 9%. We can also go about overwhelming and eradicating our external enemies, including all terrorist intellectuals, financiers and religious leaders. Once the internal traitors have been executed, all outstanding business gets settled with our adversaries.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 9, 2010 9:04:40 PM

It would not be wise to claim overmuch for the merits of a firing squad. Its historical associations for the US are disquieting to say the least as this quick internet search reveals - cpcml.ca/Tmld2008/D38103.htm.
"Justice" is too easily claimed.
As for the person behind the quote "'I've shot squirrels I've felt worse about." Sounds like he needs some serious counseling to me. A more normally balanced view of killing a human being is given here by ex-soldier, author and speaker Charles Sheehan-Miles:
(or click on my name)
Or listen to Jerry Givens (former executioner) on his thoughts about execution and the death penalty today:

There is no such thing as "100 percent Justice".

Posted by: peter | Jun 10, 2010 7:15:25 AM

Remember, Peter, the firing squad was thought to be a more dignified death than hanging--which is why German war criminals were hanged, not shot.

This is what the condemned has chosen--I'm cool with it.

Posted by: federalist | Jun 10, 2010 9:56:58 AM

The firing squad, in my view, is the best execution method yet devised. It is far more straightforward than trying to come up with the right batch of chemicals.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Jun 10, 2010 10:30:09 AM

Well, I suppose that now, after Libya has just carried out executions of 18 people by firing squad, including foreign nationals, we can take it that you look forward to the US following suit shortly.
As usual, you are in great company.

Posted by: peter | Jun 10, 2010 2:10:03 PM

peter --

In maintaning the DP, the USA keeps company with more than the boogey men you constantly bring up (Iran, Libya, Saudi Arabia, etc.). Instead, the United States is in league with well over half the world's population, including the three other largest nations (China, India and Indonesia). Abolition is largely the province of Europe, in particular the EU countries (France, Spain, the Netherlands, Norway, etc).

In other words, in the world as it exits, abolition is largely a whites-only phenomenon. Application of the DP, by contrast, spans different races, peoples and religions -- in North America, Africa, Asia and the Sub-Continent.

Why is abolitionism so much more lily white?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jun 10, 2010 6:11:26 PM

Race baiting the DP issue? Tsk, tsk, Bill. Actually plenty of yellow, black and brown countries have abolished or abanonded the death penalty.


Posted by: John K | Jun 10, 2010 10:13:54 PM

Tsk, tsk, Mr. Bill. And here I thought to would condemn happy trigger for remaining anonymous.

Posted by: George | Jun 11, 2010 1:31:54 AM

John K --

After your side has put up dozens of posts stating how the system is aimed at "people of color," you are hardly in a postition to complain that conservatives finally have taken note of what you view as proper argument. When a leftist makes it, it's a cry for "racial justice." When a conservative makes it, it's "race baiting."

Got it.

I see, however, that you don't (because you can't) deny that by far the epicenter of abolitionism is whites-only Europe. Nor do you deny that all the world's largest nations, plus Japan, have and use the death penalty.

The post I rebutted was one from peter, in which he (again) attributed use of the death penalty EXCLUSIVELY to some nasty country (in this instance Libya, in past instances Iran or Saudi Arabia). That is intentionally misleading, designed to portray the DP as used solely by less-than-nicey countries. But when it's used by India, Japan and Indonesia -- something you people never seem to be able to mention -- your portrayal is exposed as skewed. And your objections to the contrary, the skewing has not merely a deceptive but also a racial element to it.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jun 11, 2010 9:03:44 AM

Always happy to take one for the team, Bill, but for the record allow me to note I've never mentioned racial disparities among my objections to the DP.

Posted by: JohnK | Jun 11, 2010 3:08:34 PM

John K --

Glad to see you're a good team member. I haven't a darn thing against you except that you chose the wrong team.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jun 11, 2010 6:05:18 PM

If I am engaged in a DP debate on the anti-DP side, I have to say I am quite happy to see my pro-DP opponent tying himself to the human rights records of countries like China and Indonesia.

As for the actual post, my strongest reaction was that it is a little creepy when the executioner is a volunteer who enjoys his work.

Also, while it makes sense that the law protects the man's anonymity, I don't see why it should continue to do so after he decides to talk to the press about his experiences. It seems to me that there is a good argument that he has now waived those protections, and that the public's general interest in knowing about the workings of its government now overwhelms his interest in anonymity. I'm not sure why anyone would care about his identity, but to the extent they do, I would think they should now be free to file a state FOIA.

Posted by: Anon | Jun 14, 2010 12:35:48 PM

I think the death penalty is so horrible. Nobody should ever be killed, even if they killed someone before.The "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" law has ended long ago.

Posted by: lyle | Jun 21, 2010 11:53:16 AM

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