Wendel on the Web is WKYC reporter/producer Kim Wendel's "take" and commentary on the news of the day
I'm all for progress and tried-and-true methods, but I think one Utah politician needs to think a bit more about one of his suggestions again.
In an Associated Press story making the rounds since Friday, Rep. Paul Ray plans to introduce legislation in January to reinstate firing squads as a form of execution, something that Utah did as recently as 2010 (although the state stopped the option in 2004, citing excessive media attention it gave inmates, except for an inmate that had already chosen the option).
He cites a botched lethal injection in Oklahoma last month as his reason. In April, Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett's vein collapsed during a lethal injection and he died of a heart attack more than 40 minutes later.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the use of the firing squad in 1879, but as tastes have changed in the country since then, it's possible a modern court could rule the practice violates an inmate's protection from cruel and unusual punishment.
Beyond the legal challenges, it could also bring back the kind of "voyeuristic attention" the state wanted to avoid in the first place.
But wouldn't hangings bring more media attention? The electric chair?
And why should Ohioans even care? Last month, Ohio decided to boost the dosages of its lethal injection drugs even as it stands by the January execution of an inmate who made unusual snorting and gasping sounds that led to a civil rights lawsuit by his family and calls for a moratorium.
The state's new policy considerably increases the amount of the sedative used in its two-drug combination and raises the amount of the painkiller, which are injected simultaneously, according to a court filing. The state said it was making the changes "to allay any remaining concerns" after the last execution.
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said its review of the Jan. 16 execution of Dennis McGuire determined he was asleep and unconscious a few minutes after the drugs were administered and his execution was conducted in a constitutional manner.
The department said it "finds no harm in increasing the dosage levels of its drugs," after consulting with its medical expert and examining other states' practices, spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said.
McGuire's fitful 26-minute execution was the longest since Ohio resumed putting inmates to death in 1999.
Ray says a firing squad may "seem more palatable now," especially as states struggle to maneuver lawsuits and drug shortages that have complicated lethal injections. Palatable?
Opponents of the proposal say firing squads are not necessarily a fool-proof answer. It's possible an inmate could move or shooters could miss, causing the inmate a slow and painful death, said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Washington, D.C.,-based Death Penalty Information Center, which opposes capital punishment, according to USA Today.
And apparently a majority of Americans would support returning to older, more gruesome methods of execution if lethal injection stops being a viable method, according an exclusive NBC News poll.
In that poll, only one in three voters surveyed believe that the death penalty should be stopped altogether if lethal injections can no longer be carried out, the survey found. Of the two thirds that support alternatives to lethal injection, many support methods that were retired after they were deemed too cruel by many states.
And 20 percent of respondents said they would support returning to the gas chamber, 18 percent would back using the electric chair, 12 percent support death by firing squad, and 8 percent said they were for hanging.
Support for the death penalty has fallen in recent years, but a majority of Americans still believe it is an appropriate punishment. The NBC poll found that 59 percent of people support the death penalty for murder, an increase from the 55 percent support shown by a 2013 Pew Research poll.
First of all, you have to ask yourself if you support capital punishment. If you do, how does this suggestion sit with you? I mean, what if an inmate moves or the shooters miss his or her heart? We're smart people and I'm sure we can come up with a better alternative.
And I took a look at Ray's history.
He was born in Peru......Peru, Indiana. He graduated in 1985 from Peru High School, and attended Indiana University Medicine courses at Indiana University from 1985 to 1988. He was a police officer 1987-1988, a bank branch manager 1988-1995 and has worked as loan officer at a credit union since 1995.
He's entitled to his opinion but I hope others more qualified weigh in loud and clear.
Follow me on Twitter @KimWendel