Clashing Sides: Should firing squads be allowed as a method of execution?

Pro: Scott Redmond

Lining up death row inmates and putting a bullet in them is so cost effective, every state should follow Utah’s lead and adopt the policy right now.

Millions upon millions of dollars are wasted on those that are sentenced to death. The numerous appeals, keeping them nice and safe in prison with three square meals a day and yard time and then eventually the cost of the exotic cocktails used to essentially put them to sleep like done for sick and dying pets.

Yes, people who commit sick and heinous crimes are shown the same compassion as man’s best friend when it comes to the end.

That’s if the death sentence is even carried out. In many places like California it’s more likely that the person will die of old age than a sentence being enacted.

California has 745 people currently on Death Row and since 1976 has only carried out 13 actual executions, according to the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington D.C. Only 13 sentences carried out in almost 40 years is pretty dismal when compared to the number of people awaiting death.

A study by Judge Arthur L. Alarcón and Paula M. Mitchell from Loyola Marymount University and Loyola Law School in 2011 found that the cost of the death penalty in California  has been more than $4 billion since 1978. That study took into consideration  pretrial and trial costs, costs of automatic appeals and state habeas corpus petitions, costs of federal habeas corpus appeals, and costs of incarceration on death row.

More than $4 billion spent and only 13 of the individuals who helped cause that cost have been put to death. Spending all this money on appeals and petitions and incarcerating death row inmates for life is ridiculous.

Statistically, according to the findings compiled by the Death Penalty Information Center, life without parole is far cheaper than all the trappings that come with putting someone on death row, meaning all the appeals and special incarceration.

What’s even cheaper is getting a gun and a few bullets and enacting the sentence quickly and efficiently.

That’s doesn’t mean that every person on death row should be lined up and shot. There are cases of people who are innocent that end up on death row, which is a whole other issue that needs to be dealt with.

The unrepentant murderers that gleefully crow about having carried out heinous crimes though should be dealt with quickly. They don’t deserve to continue living by siphoning money out of the state and taxpayers.

The other side of the death penalty issue argues many times that killing someone who killed others won’t bring that person back, but neither will letting that killer sit in a cell for life getting treated better than people on the outside.

Basically if we’re going to have the death penalty we should actually not only use it, but make it as efficient as possible. Keeping these killers around to wait for a nice little shot in the arm to put them down, isn’t the way to make that happen.

The world would be a much better place if we gathered up the Charles Manson and Timothy McVeigh types and just put a bullet square in their forehead and called it a day.


Con: Johny Garcia

Dragged from a prison cell; refusing last rites from a priest; crying and screaming – this is how a Brazilian man’s death by firing squad took place in Indonesia last month.

And with recent changes, this could be a scene played out here in America on a regular basis.

Earlier this month, Utah’s House of Representatives voted 39-34 to bring back the firing squad as an option if the chemicals needed for lethal injection are unavailable or if lethal injection is declared unconstitutional.

Lethal injection has been receiving much criticism lately, as the companies that produce the deadly chemicals have been steadily getting pressured to shut down.

Complications have also been on the rise as various states have been forced to use alternative death-causing chemicals for lethal injection.

But Utah is not the only state that enforces the death penalty.

There are 32 states that enforce the death penalty, including California, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

And though supporters of the Utah decision cite these lethal injection complications as the need for the firing squad, we must think of the decision’s larger consequences on society. We must abolish not only the use of firing squads, but also the death penalty in general.

Studies repeatedly show that the death penalty is flawed and biased.

In Washington a black defendant is three times more likely to be recommended the death penalty than similar cases involving a white defendant, according to a University of Washington study from 2014; those in California who killed whites are more than three times more likely to be given the death penalty than those who killed blacks, according to a Santa Clara Law Review study in 2005; and those in North Carolina whose victims were white were over three and a half times more likely to receive the death penalty, according to a University of North Carolina study in 2001.

The death penalty is already flawed and should be abolished. Bringing back the firing squad is merely a step in the wrong direction.

Instead of focusing on how to kill these criminals, we should be focusing on how to prevent the murders from even occurring, as these cases are costing far too much money for each state.

“It costs 10 times, maybe 15 times more money to execute someone than to put someone in prison for life without parole,” said former death penalty supporter and current Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper in a recent interview with FOX news. “There’s no deterrence to having capital punishment. And I don’t know about you, but when I get new facts, I’ll change my opinion. I didn’t know all of this stuff.”

The death penalty is a flawed practice in the United States. Yes, there are horrific crimes that take place and the people who commit these crimes need to be punished. But to bring back an outdated method of punishment is a step in the wrong direction and a bad precedent for the rest of the country.