Friday, April 23, 2010

Chicago Criminal lawyer comments on the 8th Amendment, death penalty, & firing squads

This Chicago Criminal lawyer has posted here about the Eighth Amendment. Today, she revisits the same question about the boundaries of the Eighth Amendment in the context of the death penalty.

April 23, Salt Lake City, UT

A state judge on Friday signed a warrant ordering that Ronnie Lee Gardner be put to death on June 18, setting the stage for Utah's first execution in more than a decade.

The condemned man chose firing squad over lethal injection as the way he will die. Department of Corrections officials will choose the time of the execution, which will take place at the Utah State Prison in Draper.

Third District Judge Robin Reese signed the warrant, saying, "The defendant has exhausted all his legal remedies."

"It's my conclusion not to second-guess the courts or undertake an independent review," he said.

Reese then said he assumed Gardner would want the method of execution he had chosen previously, to which Gardner, who appeared in court shackled and under heavy guard, said, "I would like the firing squad, please."

Under state law and Administrative Code rules, the DOC officials will select five people, plus an alternate and a team leader, for a firing squad. All members must be certified peace officers.

Members of the news media will not have a view of the executioners, and the shooters' identities will not be revealed.

The last inmate to die in Utah by firing squad was John Albert Taylor, who raped and murdered 11-year-old Charla King. On Jan. 26, 1996, he was hooded and strapped to a chair as five shooters took aim at a cloth target taped over his heart. Four executioners fired live rounds, while one weapon had a blank.

Taylor said he chose the firing squad over lethal injection to embarrass Utah, the only state with that option.
While the idea of choosing one’s manner of execution sounds humane, a lot like the last meal where you can purportedly have whatever you want, I just wonder if we really envision letting folks choose death by firing squad or hanging, for example, as the way a just and humane society responds. Why is this any different than stoning or cutting off a hand as is the manner of punishment carried out in countries that are not deemed the beacons of what is just and fair?

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