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Prosecutor Calls For Firing Squads Because Execution is 'Not Supposed to be a Pleasant Experience'

Illustration for article titled Prosecutor Calls For Firing Squads Because Execution is Not Supposed to be a Pleasant Experience
Screenshot: WLWT

Hamilton County sends more prisoners to death row than any other county in Ohio. And the prosecutor there is fed up with complaints from human rights activists about lethal injection being inhumane. Joe Deters, the county prosecutor, told a local TV station that Ohio needs to bring back firing squads.


“We had an electric chair. They said that was too cruel, which the courts have found is not, by the way. Then we went to the lethal injection. Now they say that’s cruel,” Deters told WLWT-TV yesterday.

“So, as far as I’m concerned, bring back the firing squad. It’s constitutional and just end it right now.”


Shockingly, some prisoners who are waiting to die might agree with Deters. A death row inmate in Georgia famously asked for the firing squad last year after a string of botched executions in the United States. His request was denied.

The use of lethal injection has become difficult in the United States in recent years due to a lack of available drugs. Pharmaceutical companies around the world don’t want to be associated with killing people, which means that states with the death penalty have had to look overseas for suppliers. But those suppliers have dried up.

Ohio briefly stopped executing people by lethal injection in 2014 after its new two-drug execution method took 25 minutes to kill an inmate. One of the drugs in the mix, midazolam, causes paralysis and was accused of being cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of the 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Ohio resumed lethal injection in 2017 with a three-drug mix.

Oklahoma and Utah are the only states that still permit prisoners to be executed by firing squad, though the idea has become much more popular in state legislatures during the past two years. Ronnie Lee Gardner was the last person to be executed by firing squad in the U.S. when he was shot in Utah in 2010.


The United States and Japan are the only two wealthy nations that still have capital punishment. Japan executed 63-year-old cult leader Shoko Asahara and six of his followers last week for two Sarin gas attacks, including one on a Tokyo subway in 1995 that killed 13 people and left roughly 600 more injured. The cult members and their leader were all hanged.

Ohio is slated to execute Robert Van Hook next week for the February 18, 1985 murder of 25-year-old David Self. Hook is scheduled to die using Ohio’s three-drug execution method. Prosecutor Deters says that the appeals “take too damn long.”


“Stop this ‘we don’t have the drugs, we don’t have the proper facility, we can’t buy the drugs’... well, buy a rifle,” Deters said.

We are killing someone, okay. This is not supposed to be a pleasant experience. They are being executed.”


[WLWT-TV and CBS News]

Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog

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I don’t really understand how firing squad is considered to be less humane than lethal injection. I assume it’s more about the optics because bullets inflict physical damage to a body while lethal injection is practically invisible.