Death Penalty Ethics

Why Not The Guillotine? Public Hangings?


While the state of Missouri is facing delays in their busy execution schedule because the company that sells the drugs used for lethal injection will no longer sell them based on moral grounds (yes really), Attorney General Chris Koster has a novel idea for speeding things up — bring back gas chambers!

Intent on moving forward with scheduled executions at any price, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said this week he would resort to the gas chamber while other methods are tied up in court battle. [...]

Gas chamber executions have been known to take upwards of ten minutes, and one prison warden said after an 11-minute execution that he would quit if forced to perform one again. Witnesses to others have reported gasping, moans, with one inmate banging his head against a steel pole.

At least four other states’ laws allow death by gas chamber, but they each either limit its use to certain circumstances, or give inmates a choice between that and lethal injection. The last execution using this method occurred in in 1999 in Arizona, when a German national convicted in the United States had a choice and opted for the gas chamber, prompting international outrage over its resonance of Holocaust Germany. No other country has used the gas chamber as a lawful method of execution, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

Do we really want the distinction of being the only country to use gas chambers for execution in 2013? How could we possibly hope to claim the moral high ground and condemn the unfair treatment of prisoners in other regions of the world if we gas prisoners?

If the corporation who previously sold you the execution cocktail mix will no longer sell it to you because of moral objections, you may want to rethink things. And I don’t mean you should consider using even more heinous methods as an alternative.

  • Treading_Water

    Y’all are overlooking the advantages of gas chambers. Guillotines, bullets, lethal injections – all of them only allow only individual executions. The great thing about gas chambers is that you can make them as big as you need to handle whatever size group that needs executin’. I mean, you can even disguise them as shower rooms or train cars, just in case case you need to do your executin’ a little more discreetly.


  • D_C_Wilson

    How could we possibly hope to claim the moral high ground and condemn
    the unfair treatment of prisoners in other regions of the world if we
    gas prisoners?

    That ship sailed when we started waterboarding prisoners.

  • 1933john

    NRA Firing Squads.

    • D_C_Wilson

      Don’t give them any ideas. I have zero doubt that if you polled NRA members alphabetically, you could find half a dozen volunteers who would jump at the chance to shoot a human being legally before you got halfway through the A’s.

  • Runt

    If you Americans must keep on executing people, I actually wish you would consider the guillotine. Unlike your current methods it’s quick and damn near foolproof. It’s only weakness is that a beheading is unpleasant to look at, but why should watching an execution be pleasant?

  • Felonious Grammar

    Sure! It would be stimulative! Who doesn’t want a factory making poisonous gas in their back yards? Why not put one in West, Texas where people are friendly to business and hateful toward government regulation?

    Honestly, if a state is going to insist on killing some convicts, then they might as well take personal responsibility for it and have the prosecutor put a bullet in the back of the skulls of the damned.

    • muselet

      Chris Koster just got a tingling sensation all over.


  • muselet

    No one ever lost an election by claiming to be “tough on crime.” Until bloodthirsty oafs like Chris Koster do start losing elections, we can expect to see more of this sort of thing.


    • drsquid

      The catch is that he doesn’t have to lose, but the death penalty opponent has to win. If he loses to someone even more bloodthirsty, nothing happens

      • muselet

        Of course, and I suppose I should have been a little clearer on that point.


  • blackdaug

    Why Not The Guillotine? Public Hangings?
    Don’t go giving Rick Perry ideas…..