New York Times: The Last Firing Squad

The worst end of a Utah firing range

Utah death row inmate Ronnie Lee Gardner may be the last American executed by a firing squad.  Utah law, heavily influenced by Mormon tradition, calls for “blood atonement” in which a sentenced inmate is only able to redeem his own life through an execution carried out in a similar style to the crime they committed.  This means of determining execution style is now outlawed.

On a side note: one of the five riflemen is unknowingly given a blank cartridge, known as the conscience round,  in order to diffuse responsibility of the fatal shot and aid in their psychological welfare post-execution.

The article goes on to raise an interesting question: “Since this is state-sanctioned killing, shouldn’t we all be required to participate in some small way, like voting? When a democracy takes a life, it should be there for all to see.”  Whether the execution should be broadcast live to the nation as part of a “transparent government”?

Further information available in the article…

«The Last Firing Squad


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