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Old 03-16-2018, 11:44 PM
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Nitrogen Execution Now In America

There are numerous threads on execution on the SDMB. Many posts to these threads think a nitrogen asphyxiation is the best method for a variety of reasons.

Well, Oklahoma has decided nitrogen asphyxiation is the primary method in that state. But not for "humane" reasons in the first instance.
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Old 03-17-2018, 12:10 AM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
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This seems like a good way to accidentally kill some prison officials. Nitrogen is a no-shit dangerous substance in a closed area. And while there are certainly some people who would do best for this world by leaving it, I think there is enough evidence of falibility in our judicial system that we should have a serious consideration of whether we trust governments which regularly fuck up pretty much every other duty in major and minor ways to take responsibility for assuring that only genuinely guilty people are executed.

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Old 03-17-2018, 08:51 AM
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I think we should not have a death penalty, for reasons including what Stranger on a Train points out. Plus it puts the US out of the developed world mainstream.

But, nitrogen as a method, as a technical or medical question, sounds good to me. I've had a touch of nitrogen narcosis working with LN2 in the lab, and have to say it's anything but cruel. It is somewhere between beguiling and euphoric. I think euthanasia for humans and animals in great pain with poor prospects is a very good thing, and think nitrogen might be a great choice for that. Yes, there's a danger there, but we work with nitrogen in so many ways already that I think this issue can be practically handled.
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Old 03-17-2018, 09:13 AM
jz78817 jz78817 is offline
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Originally Posted by Stranger On A Train View Post
This seems like a good way to accidentally kill some prison officials. Nitrogen is a no-shit dangerous substance in a closed area. And while there are certainly some people who would do best for this world by leaving it, I think there is enough evidence of falibility in our judicial system that we should have a serious consideration of whether we trust governments which regularly fuck up pretty much every other duty in major and minor ways to take responsibility for assuring that only genuinely guilty people are executed.

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I'm not entirely opposed to it, but I don't believe it should be an option at the same standard of evidence as a mere conviction. proof "beyond a reasonable doubt" is not IMO a high enough standard of evidence to permit ending someone's life. But I don't think common law has any higher standard.
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Old 03-17-2018, 09:26 AM
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If I were going to commit suicide, I'd pick nitrogen. From all reports, its a peaceful and easy death. (I'm anti-death penalty).
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Old 03-17-2018, 11:25 AM
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Why not just OD on barbiturates or synthetic opiates (fentanyl derivatives for example) as a means of death?
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Old 03-17-2018, 11:33 AM
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Why not just OD on barbiturates or synthetic opiates (fentanyl derivatives for example) as a means of death?
From what I’ve seen regarding current events, an OD of those types of drugs doesn’t look very pleasant, and isn’t exactly quick.
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Old 03-17-2018, 11:33 AM
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We don't have a humane method of execution because that's not what anyone wants. The people who are moved by how humane it is don't want any executions at all. The people who want executions want to punish the executed, to make them suffer.
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Old 03-17-2018, 11:42 AM
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We don't have a humane method of execution because that's not what anyone wants. The people who are moved by how humane it is don't want any executions at all. The people who want executions want to punish the executed, to make them suffer.
Well, except for this guy, a self-proclaimed execution engineer, 40-cup-a-day coffee drinker, and darling of the Holocaust denial lecture circuit Fred Leuchter, Jr., who is concerned that electrocution “cooks the meat” too much. Yick.

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Old 03-17-2018, 12:10 PM
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Liquid nitrogen executions would be so much cooler.

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Old 03-17-2018, 12:26 PM
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Liquid oxygen would be faster. You know, if you really want to be humane. A bit messy, but you can’t make an omlette without blowing up a few chickens.

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Last edited by Stranger On A Train; 03-17-2018 at 12:27 PM.
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Old 03-17-2018, 12:41 PM
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I suppose if the state is going to kill people, nitrogen is preferable to being broken on the wheel. Baby steps I guess.

I'm curious, will the condemned be put into a chamber that gets filled with the gas, or will the gas be delivered through a mask?
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Old 03-17-2018, 01:02 PM
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The simplest and most humane method of execution would be a .38 round fired into the base of the skull where the spinal cord comes in. It would turn them off like a light switch. They wouldn't feel it or hear it.
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Old 03-17-2018, 01:13 PM
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Why not just OD on barbiturates or synthetic opiates (fentanyl derivatives for example) as a means of death?
There have been some moves to use fentanyl, but that is going to run into similar problems as any other execution drug.

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The simplest and most humane method of execution would be a .38 round fired into the base of the skull where the spinal cord comes in. It would turn them off like a light switch. They wouldn't feel it or hear it.
Bit more personal, means that you have to have an executioner willing to do that. It is not something that I would leave to machines. Makes more of a mess too.
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Old 03-17-2018, 01:37 PM
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Why not just OD on barbiturates or synthetic opiates (fentanyl derivatives for example) as a means of death?
Death by drugs is much, much trickier than what you think. Especially given the population subject to the penalty contains many people who have used heavy drugs for years. Lots of problems.

1. Finding a vein to inject. Keep in mind that real doctors aren't allowed to be part of this. So they have some have semi-trained schmoe with little experience trying to poke someone whose veins are all messed up.

2. What might kill one person, or a horse, might only given another person a buzz.

Some of the worst screw-ups in US execution history have come from "lethal" injection.

Last edited by ftg; 03-17-2018 at 01:38 PM.
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Old 03-17-2018, 01:49 PM
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The simplest and most humane method of execution would be a .38 round fired into the base of the skull where the spinal cord comes in. It would turn them off like a light switch. They wouldn't feel it or hear it.
The state has put considerable effort to making the death penalty appear less barbaric than it actually is. Making the death penalty appear all medically is part of maintaining public support.

There are plenty of methods of killing people, the trick is keeping the public on board. If the public starts seeing executed prisoners in pools of their own blood, many will question the humanity of executions.

When it comes to various drugs they can use the problem is always the same. Drugs are controlled by the medical community, who as a whole do not want to participate in killing people.

They can get nitrogen without doctors. It's not a horrible choice if they need to kill people. I'd prefer they stop thinking about ways to 'humanly' kill people and just not kill people.
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Old 03-17-2018, 01:52 PM
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Bit more personal, means that you have to have an executioner willing to do that.
Based on comments I've seen from certain demographic populations, there may be people who would pay to do it.
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Old 03-17-2018, 01:54 PM
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Strange that some death penalty opponents are opposing this measure elsewhere on the Internet. Yes, I get that they want no executions, period. But if executions must be done, it's better to have them done painlessly. These opponents seem to be lobbying for more painful, convoluted execution methods to remain on the books.


I suspect this would be akin to abortion opponents opposing painless forms of abortion and wanting only the more dangerous, painful methods to remain. Trying to keep it dangerous and painful in order to make it more objectionable.
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Old 03-17-2018, 01:56 PM
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The simplest and most humane method of execution would be a .38 round fired into the base of the skull where the spinal cord comes in. It would turn them off like a light switch. They wouldn't feel it or hear it.
Not that I'm particularly concerned about the momentary suffering of someone who's deprived someone else of their life and inflicted terrible and lifelong suffering upon their family and loved ones, but I'm not so sure this type of death is as instantaneous as it appears.

I've heard and read that the brain continues to be conscious and aware for some minutes after blood flow stops. On the other hand I've also read that loss of consciousness is instantaneous due to the drop in blood pressure. So who knows, I guess.

Still, it seems possible to me that while a bullet to the base of the skull causes the body to be turned off like a light, highly unpleasant things might still be going on inside the head, possibly including even pain from the injury, for at least a short time after.
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Old 03-17-2018, 02:01 PM
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I've had a touch of nitrogen narcosis working with LN2 in the lab, and have to say it's anything but cruel. It is somewhere between beguiling and euphoric.
Nitrogen asphyxiation and nitrogen narcosis are completely different things. One is bubbles of nitrogen dissolving into your brain which gives you a nice bubbly high, potentially deadly while deep scuba diving, but isn't directly fatal. The other is merely the absence of oxygen, which our bodies actually can't detect (the out-of-breath feeling comes from a buildup of CO2) so you basically just keel over and die without warning.

Another great advantage of nitrogen executions is that the prisoner's body organs would still be viable for potential transplants, which isn't possible with lethal injection.
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Old 03-17-2018, 02:03 PM
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If we used a bullet, that means there has to be a shooter -- an employee whose job it is to shoot people in the back of the skull. If it's someone who wanted to do that, they're not fit or stable enough to be an employee handling deadly weapons. If it's a regular and decent person, making them shoot people for a living will break their psyche.
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Old 03-17-2018, 02:22 PM
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Based on comments I've seen from certain demographic populations, there may be people who would pay to do it.
True, and there are probably people that would pay to watch. We could even have souvenirs and you could take selfies with the condemned, both before and after, for a nominal fee. Maybe before the execution, you can buy rocks or rotten fruit to throw at the prisoner. We could haul them through town in an open cage for everyone to jeer and sneer at.

Be great for morale and a useful subsidy towards our criminal justice system (jails don't build themselves you know.)

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If we used a bullet, that means there has to be a shooter -- an employee whose job it is to shoot people in the back of the skull. If it's someone who wanted to do that, they're not fit or stable enough to be an employee handling deadly weapons. If it's a regular and decent person, making them shoot people for a living will break their psyche.
Ahhh, spoilsport.


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Another great advantage of nitrogen executions is that the prisoner's body organs would still be viable for potential transplants, which isn't possible with lethal injection.
I'm of very mixed minds when it comes to harvesting the condemned for their organs. In some ways, it makes sense, and it also makes the death penalty less wasteful, but it does create a perverse incentive to increase the number of executions if we need more organs.
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Old 03-17-2018, 02:33 PM
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If we used a bullet, that means there has to be a shooter -- an employee whose job it is to shoot people in the back of the skull. If it's someone who wanted to do that, they're not fit or stable enough to be an employee handling deadly weapons.
How is this logic different than any other execution method? Someone has to pull the switch for the electric chair, start the IV flowing for the lethal injection, operate the trap-door for the gallows. "If they're willing to do it, they shouldn't, and if they are unwilling to do it, they shouldn't" is roundabout circular logic.
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Old 03-17-2018, 03:47 PM
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How is this logic different than any other execution method? Someone has to pull the switch for the electric chair, start the IV flowing for the lethal injection, operate the trap-door for the gallows. "If they're willing to do it, they shouldn't, and if they are unwilling to do it, they shouldn't" is roundabout circular logic.
In my understanding of human psychology, being "up close and personal" when killing someone is very different in terms of how it affects the human mind than being separated and essentially pulling a switch in another room.
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Old 03-17-2018, 04:06 PM
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They can get nitrogen without doctors. It's not a horrible choice if they need to kill people. I'd prefer they stop thinking about ways to 'humanly' kill people and just not kill people.
Why would one need to get nitrogen? It is fucking everywhere. All you would need to do is seal a room and set up a bunch of oxygen generators to pump the oxygen out. With enough capacity, the room could be uninhabitable rather quickly.
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Old 03-17-2018, 04:12 PM
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In my understanding of human psychology, being "up close and personal" when killing someone is very different in terms of how it affects the human mind than being separated and essentially pulling a switch in another room.
People have even tried to come up with designs that make the condemned be the only one to "pull the trigger" as it were.

Self hanging gallows.
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Old 03-17-2018, 04:17 PM
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Why would one need to get nitrogen? It is fucking everywhere. All you would need to do is seal a room and set up a bunch of oxygen generators to pump the oxygen out. With enough capacity, the room could be uninhabitable rather quickly.
It would probably require quite a bit of time and effort to remove the oxygen from a room. Most people in a closed room do not die from oxygen deprivation, but CO2 poisoning.

It is also easy to get nitrogen. It is not a chemical or drug that needs to be manufactured by a company that is concerned about possible reputational damages that they are selling LI drugs.

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Old 03-17-2018, 04:21 PM
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It is also easy to get nitrogen. It is not a chemical or drug that needs to be manufactured by a company that is concerned about possible reputational damages that they are selling LI drugs.
You have to buy it from someone. Companies don't like to be associated with state-sponsored killing.
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Old 03-17-2018, 04:31 PM
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You have to buy it from someone. Companies don't like to be associated with state-sponsored killing.
There are hundreds, if not thousands of places where you can buy nitrogen either as compressed gas or as liquid. I know of 5 places I can buy air products, including nitrogen, off hand within 20 minutes of here, and I've never bought it.

If all else fails, you can make it yourself, it's not exactly hard or expensive to get the equipment required.

Personally, I am pretty against the death penalty. I don't really see the point in it, and it makes it hard to exonerate someone when you discover that they were actually innocent, but then I think most of our justice system is a hodgepodge of poor incentives to try to get people to act ethically.

The death penalty should be extremely rare, only used in the cases of truly irredeemable and heinous criminals, if at all, and should also be as humane as possible. If we are going to do it, we should at least get part of it right.
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Old 03-17-2018, 04:53 PM
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There are hundreds, if not thousands of places where you can buy nitrogen either as compressed gas or as liquid.
And with a simple FOIA request, death penalty opponents can find out which one they used and spread it all over the internet. Suppliers will have to decide if that is worth a couple hundred dollars of gas.
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Old 03-17-2018, 05:06 PM
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And with a simple FOIA request, death penalty opponents can find out which one they used and spread it all over the internet. Suppliers will have to decide if that is worth a couple hundred dollars of gas.
There are many govt industries that also produce nitrogen gas, and, as I said, the equipment to make it is not really all that expensive or hard to run.

If it came down to it, an enterprising entrepreneur could set himself up as the supplier of nitrogen gas for executions for only a few thousand dollars worth of equipment. Then it wouldn't matter if it is spread all over the internet, as just a couple executions pay for the equipment, and they wouldn't need to have any other customers.
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Old 03-17-2018, 05:11 PM
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There are many govt industries that also produce nitrogen gas, and, as I said, the equipment to make it is not really all that expensive or hard to run.

If it came down to it, an enterprising entrepreneur could set himself up as the supplier of nitrogen gas for executions for only a few thousand dollars worth of equipment. Then it wouldn't matter if it is spread all over the internet, as just a couple executions pay for the equipment, and they wouldn't need to have any other customers.
How many states use nitrogen for executions? One. How much nitrogen do they need? Not much. How cheap is it? Very.

You just keep thinking Butch, that's what you're good at.
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Old 03-17-2018, 05:15 PM
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People have even tried to come up with designs that make the condemned be the only one to "pull the trigger" as it were.

Self hanging gallows.
Just fill a room with argon to neck level. Pure argon is heavier than air and not terribly expensive. The prisoner is free to move about, but as soon as he sits down, he will pass out and asphyxiate.
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Old 03-17-2018, 05:19 PM
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How many states use nitrogen for executions? One. How much nitrogen do they need? Not much. How cheap is it? Very.
And a few days ago it was zero.

This thread is discussing about that changing. If that changes, it is not going to go just from zero to one, it will go to more than that.

Like I said, it is very easy to produce. And if you are the only one willing to produce it for the purpose of being used in the death penalty, you can probably charge a much higher rate than what you can get from PraxAir.

Or, even easier, the prison can have the equipment down in the basement, if they would rather produce it themselves than procure it.
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You just keep thinking Butch, that's what you're good at.
I assume you mean that as an insult. I really do not see the need for that.

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Old 03-17-2018, 05:30 PM
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Just fill a room with argon to neck level. Pure argon is heavier than air and not terribly expensive. The prisoner is free to move about, but as soon as he sits down, he will pass out and asphyxiate.
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Old 03-17-2018, 05:34 PM
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Submitted for your approval: one Roland B. Eschereal, innoculous participant on a little known message board in a dusty corner of that dark dimension known as the Twilight Zone. But little known to the subject of tonight’s feature, this is his last night before shuffling off that mortal coil, for the next time he elects to ease his weary feet and recline in that Laz-E-Boy, the breath he takes will be his last. Tonight’s episode is entitled, “Take a Chair,” brought to you by Chesterfield cigarettes. Chesterfield King, the great taste of twenty-one vintage tobaccos, grown mild, aged mild, and blended mild. No wonder they satisfy so completely.
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Old 03-17-2018, 05:41 PM
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Submitted for your approval: one Roland B. Eschereal, innoculous participant on a little known message board in a dusty corner of that dark dimension known as the Twilight Zone. But little known to the subject of tonight’s feature, this is his last night before shuffling off that mortal coil, for the next time he elects to ease his weary feet and recline in that Laz-E-Boy, the breath he takes will be his last. Tonight’s episode is entitled, “Take a Chair,” brought to you by Chesterfield cigarettes. Chesterfield King, the great taste of twenty-one vintage tobaccos, grown mild, aged mild, and blended mild. No wonder they satisfy so completely.
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Old 03-17-2018, 05:44 PM
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Based on comments I've seen from certain demographic populations, there may be people who would pay to do it.
Oh, people would be outbidding each other to do it. Black Mirror is no shit. That is the future.

I'm fine with the death penalty, I just think they should shoot them in the head instead of trying to make a big spectacle of how humane. They could build some kind of robotic device to fire the bullet.
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Old 03-17-2018, 06:07 PM
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I'm fine with the death penalty, I just think they should shoot them in the head instead of trying to make a big spectacle of how humane. They could build some kind of robotic device to fire the bullet.
Probably not the best idea...

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Old 03-17-2018, 06:18 PM
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Old 03-17-2018, 06:46 PM
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The Shooting Machine

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The state then ordered a rack of rifles that was to be set up on a frame by an Eastern ordnance foundry. The 1000-pound (450 kg) execution machine, which was called the "shooting gallery of steel", included three Savage Model 1899 .30-30 caliber rifles with Maxim silencers....

The "shooting machine" was designed to be loaded with two lethal rounds and a blank cartridge, each connected to a coiled spring mechanism. The device could be fired by cutting three strings, only one of which would fire the rifles. This design would prevent the three randomly selected prison guards from knowing who would be responsible for triggering the lethal shot.... The prison doctor... placed a heart-shaped target on Mircovich's chest. The aim on the loaded rifles were sighted on the defendant’s heart, and checked by each guard. Mircovich cursed the name of Judge Averill and said "I die like a soldier" before he was shot to death....

Doctor McLean declared that the death was instantaneous. An autopsy found the two soft-nosed ball cartridges within 2/3 inch (17mm) of each other in Mircovich's heart.
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Old 03-17-2018, 07:46 PM
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And with a simple FOIA request, death penalty opponents can find out which one they used and spread it all over the internet. Suppliers will have to decide if that is worth a couple hundred dollars of gas.


If the Legislature has the votes to establish nitrogen as a death penalty, it's got the votes to pass an exemption to the FOI Act to shield the companies which supply nitrogen for death penalty purposes.
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Old 03-17-2018, 07:53 PM
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If the Legislature has the votes to establish nitrogen as a death penalty, it's got the votes to pass an exemption to the FOI Act to shield the companies which supply nitrogen for death penalty purposes.
Yes but, as has been said, Nitrogen isn't like specially formulated pharmaceuticals. Anyone can go and buy it readily and not say why they are using it. There would be no way or knowing where it came from and the buyer wouldn't have to say why they were buying it.
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Old 03-17-2018, 08:07 PM
F. U. Shakespeare F. U. Shakespeare is offline
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Originally Posted by k9bfriender View Post
True, and there are probably people that would pay to watch. We could even have souvenirs and you could take selfies with the condemned, both before and after, for a nominal fee. Maybe before the execution, you can buy rocks or rotten fruit to throw at the prisoner. We could haul them through town in an open cage for everyone to jeer and sneer at.

Be great for morale and a useful subsidy towards our criminal justice system (jails don't build themselves you know.)
The late comedian Bill Hicks proposed a voluntary option, "death by stunt": the condemned could choose to die performing a fatal fall/shooting/etc. for a major motion picture.
  #46  
Old 03-17-2018, 08:12 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
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Yes but, as has been said, Nitrogen isn't like specially formulated pharmaceuticals. Anyone can go and buy it readily and not say why they are using it. There would be no way or knowing where it came from and the buyer wouldn't have to say why they were buying it.
A state prison can't just send some guy out with petty cash to buy a bottle of nitrogen. There's going to be a purchase order, invoice and delivery paper work. There's always a paper trail.
  #47  
Old 03-17-2018, 08:25 PM
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Blank Slate Blank Slate is offline
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First thought: It's the 21st century and we're a nation of baboons.

Second thought: If I was facing execution, I'd want the guillotine. Sure it's messy, but a well-built and tested (with watermelons?) guillotine would surely be efficient. Shit, I'd be willing to hold the rope and do it myself.
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Old 03-17-2018, 08:34 PM
Lamoral Lamoral is offline
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First thought: It's the 21st century and we're a nation of baboons.
No, we're really not. Baboons don't have courts and laws. Our justice system is really fucked up, but it's better than nothing.
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Old 03-17-2018, 08:38 PM
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No, we're really not. Baboons don't have courts and laws. Our justice system is really fucked up, but it's better than nothing.
Here, let me help you out.
  #50  
Old 03-17-2018, 08:38 PM
Velocity Velocity is offline
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If I was facing execution, I'd want the guillotine. Sure it's messy, but a well-built and tested (with watermelons?) guillotine would surely be efficient. Shit, I'd be willing to hold the rope and do it myself.
From what I've read, it's almost certain that there is still pain involved for some time. The head is severed, but the brain still has some oxygen to keep it going for long enough to register pain - and there would no doubt be severe pain from having the neck just lopped off and a big gaping wound in the neck.

Last edited by Velocity; 03-17-2018 at 08:39 PM.
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