Opponents of the death penalty don’t get far in state legislatures, so they have resorted to being pests.
Every state that permits executions has a different protocol, and every part of the process is under attack, leading one legal scholar to label the situation “problematic and chaotic.” Virginia skirted a challenge by buying a lethal drug from Texas, where secrecy laws are stronger.
There is an easier answer:
Bring back Old Sparky!
That was the nickname for the electric chairs of many states, notably Florida. In a handful of other states, it was Old Smokey. Louisiana had its Gruesome Gertie, Alabama its Yellow Mama.
Some states maintain functioning electric chairs, but Florida was forced to retire its Old Sparky in 2000 after botched executions. In one, flames a foot high shot out of a convicted murderer’s head, leading to cries of “cruel and unusual punishment.”
State AG Bob Butterworth’s classic reply: “People who wish to commit murder, they’d better not do it in the state of Florida because we may have a problem with the electric chair.”
The electric chair was first used in New York on an ax murderer in 1890. The latest use was in 2013 in Virginia, where a convicted murderer started killing fellow inmates and promised to continue. He picked the chair over lethal injection.
Now I’ll backtrack and point out a sobering fact: Mistakes are made in the legal system. About 150 people have been saved off death row. Juries have convicted relying on shaky eyewitness testimony, sometimes coerced. Prosecutors have overreached.
So I advance the modest proposal to fire prosecutors who wrongfully send a defendant to death row. Disbar those who conceal exculpatory evidence.
Many cases are no-brainers; sometimes much thought is called for.
This website chronicles death penalty issues: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org