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GoldieAV16's avatar

Death penalty question, whether you are for or against it: Why not switch from lethal injection to the guillotine?

Asked by GoldieAV16 (5338 points ) December 13th, 2013

The drugs used in lethal injections are becoming very difficult to obtain in the US, and as a result states are more and more turning to “experimental” and illicitly obtained drugs. To add to this, there have been problems with the previously used three-drug cocktail when it was not injected properly, causing inmates to suffer prolonged and horrific deaths, or sometimes not die at all – just suffer.

On the other hand, the guillotine is quick, painless and 100% effective. Isn’t that everything an execution should be?

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41 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

Because the drug producers need the cash

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Would make for better television, the G.

ucme's avatar

There’s no doubt a properly executed (pun intended) beheading is the most effective method of killing the bad guys. It’s just too barbaric though, decapitation, legally performed, breaks the taboo of a modern world.

zenvelo's avatar

Beheading, whether by guillotine or by sword, not only kills the person, it mutilates the body. That mutilation repels most people as a means of executing, it’s adding insult to injury.

And it is much more horrific for the family of the condemned, who then have a mutilated headless corpse to bury.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

It’s effective, but it messes with some of our symbolically ethical (?) or moral issues. We live in our heads, that’s where all of our thoughts, feelings, fears, longings, etc exist. It’s tough to think of losing that from the rest of the body. When you sever the link between the heart and the head, it messes with us a bit. But on the other hand, it would make for a side industry, so when someone ask for some head you could hand them the deceased’s. Sorry, that was bad even for me.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I’d rather have the guillotine or be put to sleep like a dog than any drug cocktail. As long as it’s not drowning (shudder.)

whitenoise's avatar

Why don’t we come up with something creative, as an alternative?

For instance sedation, followed by freezing?

Makes sure you hand a perfect corpse to the family. One could even freeze them into special poses.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

A free fall from near space would last around 4 minutes. Plenty of time to make peace.

kritiper's avatar

Too bloody! The heart will keep pumping with head doffed until it stops. Consciousness may continue for several seconds. Lethal injection puts you to sleep, then stops your heart.

Mariah's avatar

@KNOWITALL Don’t they put dogs to sleep with a lethal injection?

I agree with @zenvelo. Regardless of how quick or painless it is, beheading is just too barbaric to be considered.

drhat77's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies some people have survived falling out of an airplane. even near spance wouldn’t change much as they would reach terminal (a-ha-ha) velocity prior to striking.

poisonedantidote's avatar

Just use soda. I am sure half a gallon Pepsi pumped directly in to the heart would do the job. You can get Pepsi at the gas station.

TheRealOldHippie's avatar

What’s wrong with a good, old-fashioned hanging? Or the firing squad? Much more humane than “off with your head!”

ETpro's avatar

The guillotine is most definitely not painless, though. Your brain survives for several minutes and all the nerves in your neck and backbone are still working. You’d feel your head being sliced off, banging onto the floor and rolling around. You’d be painfully aware that you are going to die is a few minutes, but you’re going to suffer hideous pain till you’re gone.

How about just letting me OD on heroin?

ragingloli's avatar

On a similar note, why, 70 years after the holocaust, do some colonial states still use gas chambers?

drhat77's avatar

I.m Jewish, but the reason Nazis used gas chambers was because they were very efficient. No reason to deny others that efficiency just because the Nazis dialed up the crazy to 11… million

rojo's avatar

because it offends the sensibilities of the populace these days. Pussies

@ETpro would you really feel the pain or would the body mind hit the overload limit and shut it off?

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Mariah A lethal dose of anesthesia. Humans die from it on operating tables sometimes, too. You go to sleep and never wake up, painless and perfect from my pov.

@drhat From what I’ve read, humans and dogs both are affected individually from gas and some horror stories have occurred because one or two remained alive after the rest had died, I’d choose anther form.

Katniss's avatar

If the inmate is guilty, and it has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, depending on the severity of the crime, I say put them in the chair and let them sit there and simmer for a while.

“Am I evil? Yes I am….” ~ King Diamond/Metallica

josie's avatar

As a practical matter, I am against the death penalty.
The Political State is clearly too corruptible, too fallible, and too incompetent to be allowed to make a totally irreversible error.

There are and have been capital cases, however, where there has been a credible confession, unimpeachable eyewitnesses, or both. In those cases, the State is not really subject to error, it is simply carrying out justice based apparently on metaphysical fact and not epistemological truth. At that point, I do not see a problem with the death penalty, as long as the social norms accept death as a form of legal justice.

And at that point, I suppose the manner of execution is nothing more than a reflection of the sensibilities of the majority of the individuals in society. These days, people seem to be uncomfortable with hanging, shooting, decapitating, electrocution, and other methods that seem to be violent or mutilating. So what is wrong with lethal injection. It is not mutilating, and other than being stuck with an IV needle it seems to not be agonizing, at least the way they do it in my State (an initial dose of sleep inducing drug, followed by the lethal drugs). Until they come up with a science fiction style disintegrator, it seems appropriate.

There you go.

elbanditoroso's avatar

As recently as a couple of years ago, one of the states – I think it was Utah – gave the condemned person the option of firing squad. There are probably more skilled gunmen than injection assistants, and ammunition is certainly far more available than the three-drug concoction used today.

I’m all for the use of a firing squad to make for more conclusive capital punishment. Injections are subtle. Bullets are “in your face”, so to speak.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@ragingloli “Because the drug producers need the cash”

Is that why more and more drug producers are refusing to sell these drugs to the various Departments of Corrections?

Darth_Algar's avatar

As for the question – I am absolutely against the death penalty. The state should not have such power over it’s people. Neither is it a deterrent nor does it serve justice. It only serves to temporarily sate bloodlust and a need for revenge.

johnpowell's avatar

I wish we just went with the Running Man method.

flutherother's avatar

There isn’t a nice way to kill people and I don’t think the state should ever do it.

Adagio's avatar

Why have the death penalty at all, I’m completely against it.

filmfann's avatar

A severed head is still aware for a few moments. That becomes cruel and unusual punishment.

Darth_Algar's avatar

I would argue that the death penalty itself is cruel, so why worry about if they’re aware for a few moments after the act?

elbanditoroso's avatar

I guess that I’m not sympathetic to a few minutes of incredible pain to someone who caused incredible pain to others.

besides, the guy who the state is putting to death isn’t going to remember much the next day,

KaY_Jelly's avatar

Because imagine what would happen when Joe the guy in charge of sharpening the blade gets tired, or is late, because he is overworked.
The criminal gets sent to the guillotine the dull blade falls and oh I’m sure you can be creative here.

A certain famous coffee place couldn’t even get a soy latte right :/ I don’t go there anymore, I make my own.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@KaY_Jelly I really doubt the guy working the device is going to be that tired or overworked. It’s not the French Revolution, it’s America. We don’t execute people that frequently, not even in Texas.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

A really dumb guy was sentenced to the guillotine. He was lead out and placed in position, and the blade was released. It came ⅔’s of the way down and screeched to a halt. Everyone gasped and a nun said “It must be a miracle”. The executioner pulls the blade up, makes sure the dumb guy is in position, and lets the blade go. It screeches to a stop at ⅔’s again. The crowd chants it’s a sign, let him go, let him go. The dumb guy turns to the executioner and says “A little oil in the track would make that work a lot smoother.”

DancingMind's avatar

No death is going to be quick, painless, and 100% effective. Dying is evolutionarily painful.

If I’m not mistaken, part of the older death penalties was that is was a spectacle. Execution by the cross was an horrendous, elaborate ordeal before it became the symbol of martyrdom and Christ. Then the Romans had to figure out another means, because as miserable as it was for the person to hang there nailed on a cross slowly dying, on display, the message was no longer the same for the other citizens.

Hanging, the guillotine, firing squad, burning, stoning—these are all very brutal and graphic, and are so on purpose. These are public executions. They are supposed to show the rest of the community, ‘don’t be like this guy, because this punishment is horrible.’ I don’t know why we’d want to return to that when we’ve tried so hard to get away from that—

Through lethal injections, it seems we’ve attempted to make executing someone somehow devoid of the cruelty and indecency that for history has been part of executions. And while I think it’s more humane to remove the spectacle, while I think it’s more humane to make it as painless and without torture as possible, I think we’re largely deluding ourselves. Killing is cruel. While the person won’t (so far as we can tell) be in such dreadful pain or be disfigured by lethal injection, they still must walk into the chair, let themselves be strapped in, and await a tiny prick of a stabbing. And while the person won’t be ogled at by the whole community, by making executions a much more private matter we’ve removed this act society commits from society’s eye.

We cannot claim that the executions are for the benefit of the person being killed. Their death is because the society has deemed them undesirable and unredeemable. The society has deemed their death would be more benefit as an example. Punishments are not for the benefit of those who experience them; it is deterrent for everyone else.

This partitioning of the execution removes somewhat the sense that it is a lesson of fear for the society (at least, those in the society who would wrong), but it removes just as much our visual complicity. We live in a mindset that if you do something wrong, something wrong must be inflicted back on you. We know this is an ineffective technique for correcting behavior, and yet we’ve ingested this retributive mentality as if we can somehow balance the score of wrongness, as if it’s a currency and the debts can be matched. And so long as everything is kept beyond our immediate sight (everything is contained in laws and words and descriptions and trials), we can believe this payback to be a moral checkbook. This isn’t how life works. Life is messy. Life bleeds.

(Also, I prefer all the above methods of execution to gas chambers. Didn’t the Nazis use gas chambers because they could mass-kill so many people in such an impersonal and out-of-sight way? The ones that still remain have fingernail claw marks up the concrete walls. It’s not a good way to die, it’s not a good way to ‘teach the public a lesson,’ but it is a sickening and effective way to commit genocide, (which is sickening itself).)

ETpro's avatar

@rojo Based on what I have seen of what extreme torture can do to a person, there is no overload switch.

KaY_Jelly's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe you always have my neck! :-*

GoldieAV16's avatar

Thank you all, for your thoughtful answers. I don’t really have a lot to say on the subject – I mostly just wanted to hear what others thought, and it gives me more to think about. :-)

Paradox25's avatar

I oppose the death penalty, but I could never understand why the Department of Corrections did not use carbon monoxide for executions. It’s very cheap, easy to manufacture, painless, non gruesome and very effective. This has been especially shocking to me considering that humane executions were supposed to be the epitome of the death penalty in modern times.

zenvelo's avatar

@Paradox25 It’s because it takes too long. And in the meantime the prisoner has to deal with the awareness that the penalty is being carried out. It’s always been a general goal to make the execution quick and painless.

In Japan, they don’t even tell you when your execution is scheduled, they just come and get you one day and carry it out.

Paradox25's avatar

I’ve read a lot about carbon monixide. In its purest form being directly inhaled from a high pressure cylander to the lungs unconsciousness occurs in less than half of a minute. Brain death would follow up in less than five minutes.

Hydrogen cyanide gas was very painful, and I’m sure the prisoner is aware of the process being carried out during that procedure. The prisoner is also aware of their fate during the process of lethal injection too, and this has its own risks, not to mention being very costly either way you look at it. The guillotine is a crazy idea to me.

Darth_Algar's avatar

The guillotine is a good idea for quick and painless executions. But we shy away from such things because we like to sanitize our state-sanctioned murder as much as possible.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@ragingloli “On a similar note, why, 70 years after the holocaust, do some colonial states still use gas chambers?”

You need to update your info, the gas chamber hasn’t been used in the United States in 15 years.

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