Trump administration rushes to kill federal prisoners before Inauguration Day, now allowing firing squads, gas, and electrocution

December 1, 2020 • 9:30 am

As CNN reports, the federal government has already executed eight inmates in federal prisons in 2020, a big number. But it gets worse, as now there are five more prisoners scheduled to be executed by the feds before Inauguration Day. This is all since Attorney General William Barr order federal killings to be resumed in July 2019—following a 17-year moratorium on killing federal prisoners. As I’ve said before, Trump has the authority to stay the executions, and that would allow the Biden administration, with Joe opposed to capital punishment, to determine the fate of the prisoners.

That would be the charitable thing to do, but, as the article reports, “”What is clear is that this administration wants these prisoners dead before Joe Biden takes office,” Executive Director of the Death Penalty Information Center Robert Dunham told CNN on Monday.”  To Trump, I suspect, these men—and one woman—are simply pawns that he can sweep off the board to curry favor with his acolytes. But they are human lives. 

If you’re opposed to the death penalty as barbaric, non-deterrent (why not televise executions if you want a deterrent?), useful only to satisfy feelings of retribution, and, above all, a penalty that can’t be undone if the convicted person is exonerated (there have been many), then this is bad enough. But it gets worse. As reader Ken informed me, the U.S. Department of Justice has filed a a proposed rule change, effective on Christmas Eve, that would add three other forms of execution to the presently mandated lethal injection: suffocation by nitrogen gas (never before used), electrocution, and firing squads Some of these are already legal for state executions.

Why the change? The Federal Register link above says this (my emphasis):

Execution by lethal injection is authorized in all States that have capital punishment. . . . However, some States also authorize execution by other means in certain circumstances. . . . Some States also provide by law that a prisoner may choose the manner of execution from among several options, in at least some circumstances. . . States may authorize execution by other means in the future, and it is possible that a State in the future will provide that a manner other than lethal injection is the only authorized means of execution. Section 3596(a) would then require execution in that manner for a Federal offender sentenced in the State.

The current regulations also provide that a Federal execution shall occur “[a]t a federal penal or correctional institution designated by the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.”. . . Section 3597(a), however, provides that State and local facilities and personnel may be used in carrying out Federal executions. As discussed above, future situations may arise in which it is necessary to carry out an execution by some means other than lethal injection. However, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) facility for carrying out executions, located at the Terre Haute correctional complex in Indiana, is equipped for carrying out executions only by lethal injection. If cases arise in which the Department is required to execute a Federal inmate according to the law of a State that uses a method other than lethal injection, the most expedient means of carrying out the execution may be to arrange for State assistance.

Since most states—and the federal government—have hit on lethal injection as (presumably) the most humane way of killing prisoners, why would “a situation arise in which it is necessary to carry out an execution by some other means”? Well, American pharmaceutical companies now refuse to provide the requisite drugs to prisons, so they have to obtain the unconsciousness-inducing drug from suppliers in other countries, or by other means that they don’t specify including having pharmacists mix up the requisite barbiturates themselves (pentobarbital is used most often, having replaced sodium thiopental). The result is that quality control isn’t guaranteed, and some lethal injections have gone badly wrong.

Further, the rules have been that prescriptions for fatal drugs must be issued and signed by a physician prescribing for the condemned person. This is against the American Medical Association’s ethics rules, and this stipulation now appears to have been overturned by the Supreme Court.

There are other questions about how humane executions are, with reports that the patients are tortured, with extreme pain that isn’t evident to observers. If you simply want to cause death, isn’t dying and the thought of it punishment enough without making it painful and horrible? (Disgustingly, some advocates of capital punishment are gleeful at the thought of such torture.)

If these five are executed before Biden takes office, that will still leave 49 people on death row. The fair thing to do is to halt all federal executions pending the new administration. But who ever said that Trump was fair?

As for the other methods of execution, well, electrocution is surely grossly inhumane.  Execution with bullets is quick but surely painful, and execution with nitrogen gas has never been tried before; there are doubts about its efficacy and painlessness.  But none of this matters to me, as none of the methods should be used.

Here’s the gurney that the state of Arkansas uses for its executions by lethal injection:

84 thoughts on “Trump administration rushes to kill federal prisoners before Inauguration Day, now allowing firing squads, gas, and electrocution

    1. Getting the USGS to certify stones for such use would take … ages. And unlike the Bible-bashers, we do have a very clear idea about what “ages” means.
      Seriously – is the point of stoning to cause death by multiple blunt-force trauma, or by multiple lacerations? In one case, you want a dense, tough lithology which won’t shatter on impact, while in the other you also want something fairly dense, but which produces many sharp edges on impact. There’s ten years theological blood-letting to be had there, even before we get to a first draft of the standard.
      At least, I hope my colleagues would take that approach ; but since the USGS employs a lot of Americans, I can’t be sure that the minions of the Tangerine Shitgibbon (Emeritus) couldn’t find enough uncivilised members of the profession to cobble something together overnight. They probably employ more than a few Young Earth Creationists – just on raw statistical probability. I know the UK Geological Survey has at least one.

      1. Near as I can tell we (pro-choicers) are consistent with choice. Unless you mean something trivial (“every topic” is a trap)….I’m not sure where you’re going with this but I am suspicious.

        1. He’s claiming that the hypocrisy of “pro-life” Republicans who support the death penalty is no different from pro-choice advocates not supporting (I presume) unfettered access to high powered weapons. It is, of course, an example of false equivalence.

          1. Well, “pro-choice” advocates actually usually supports lot of restrictions on choice. Do they support allowing people to try vaccines and drugs that have not been FDA approved? Pretty sure that most don’t, so they certainly do not support allowing people to do what they want with their body.

            1. The whole point of “pro-life” is that a fetus is a full human being and thus can’t be killed. Convicted criminals are also full human beings, to my knowledge. So the inconsistency for “pro-life” death penalty advocates is profound.

              The similarity between the right to decide moral questions regarding safe procedures done on one’s own body and the need to protect the public from con men selling quack medicines is rather slim. Your analogy is not a good one.

              1. I think they say “innocent human being” a lot of the time. And your attempt to deny the analogy between abortion and the right to use non-FDA approved does not convince me. Are you aware of the libertarian critique of the FDA? Undoubtedly the FDA delays useful medicines from reaching the market. People may die while waiting for useful drug to get approval, or drugs ma never be developed because the hassle makes it not worth it. If you really believe people have a right to decide what to do with their body they should for example be allowed to take a vaccine that the FDA has not approved. Whether people can handle that responsibility is a topic for another day, but one is certainly not pro-choice if one thinks that people should not be allowed to make a choice about potentially life-saving treatments.

              2. Delays are the price of knowing that drugs have been scientifically analyzed to determine safety and efficacy. For the most part it works. The alternative is quackery and patent medicines full sold by grifters on late night TV. Not a bad trade off, IMO.

                I don’t care what you or your libertarian friends put in your bodies. I care that you don’t sell bogus medical products. The purpose of the FDA is not to keep you from drinking Clorox. It is to keep you from shilling Clorox and UV anal light devices as a cure for Covid-19.

  1. I don’t think you are correct why other methods than lethal injection may be needed. Federal law weirdly says that if the state where the sentencing court is located uses the death penalty, then the execution should use the same method as the state. If the state does not have the death penalty the federal court picks a state that has the death penalty and that method should be used. The regulation is simply a preparation if some day a state decides to use a different method from lethal injection and someone receives a federal death penalty in that state.

    As for the claims of disadvantages of various methods of execution, I am skeptical. I have paid attention to claims by death penalty opponents regarding the recent Trump executions and have not found them to be the most honest bunch.

    1. Since, as you say, you’ve paid attention to dishonest claims by death penalty opponents, it should not be difficult to cite them here. I’d like to see the evidence you’ve collected.

      In case it’s lost on you – I’m calling you out. Demonstrate -with citations- the dishonesty that you’ve paid attention to. Otherwise, I think it’s appropriate to ignore you..

      1. I have heard lots of complaints about the trials that lead to the sentences for the recently executed federal inmates, which just don’t tally with what you find when you read the court opinions. There is also the Federal Death Penalty Information Center, which occassionally claims neutrality on the subject of the death penalty while clearly being a lobby group against it.

        1. Though you didn’t actually answer the question (no examples are given), I do thank you for replying. Since you don’t provide any examples, all I can say about your claims of “dishonesty” is that you may have mistaken differences in perspective or knowledge for dishonesty.

          I am not surprised. These days, it’s de rigueur to assume your political opponent is dishonest, even evil, in some way. It is a viewpoint from which almost all political and social discourses are formed today. The assumption that someone who sees things from a different perspective must be dishonest is a view that is itself dishonest.

          Anyway, thanks for the response. I honestly thought you were just another post and run bomb thrower

    2. Yes, please enumerate the dishonest claims made by death penalty opponents, if you’re going to make such a statement. It seems to me that Jerry’s appraisals of each method are accurate, which illustrates the barbarity of it all.

    3. Since 1963, there have been 11 executions carried out by the federal government, all of them since 2001, all of them at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, and all of them by lethal injection, the only method of execution USP Terre Haute has ever yet been equipped to administer. The Effective Death Penalty Act on its face does allow executions to be conducted by other means that are used in states that still employ capital punishment. There are a handful of prisoners who have been sentenced to death currently being held at two federal facilities other than on the death row at Terre Haute; none of them has an active death warrant pending, though it’s conceivable that if one or more of them were to be executed it might be by means other than lethal injection.

    4. I’m noting a continued absence of cited evidence of dishonesty by death penalty opposers. I make it about 9 hours, which is more than enough. So it’s retraction time.
      (Not, for one second, anticipating a retraction. Doubling-down is more likely.)

  2. I’m not a supporter of the death penalty (mostly owing to the difficulty of reversing the process if you’ve made a mistake), but I am puzzled by the amount of wrangling over methods — surely any vet knows how to put down a large-ish mammal (sufficiently painlessly), and has the drugs to do it?

    1. What GB James says.

      It’s a constant source of amazement to me that Big Pharma who would ordinarily not give a second thought to the human cost of their pursuit of enrichment are so morally opposed to capital punishment that they won’t sell the requisite drugs to the government.

      Or maybe the characterisation of Big Pharma that conspiracy theorists and anti vaxxers love so much is actually wrong.

      1. I would hazard that their objections come from a desire to avoid potential legal issues and PR problems more than matters of conscience.

      2. IIRC the EU also forbids drugs from being used or sold for purposes of execution.

        Which brings up two possible reasons why the drug companies won’t help with executions:
        1. Their production facilities are in nations that forbid that practice.
        2.They’ve decided business in this relatively small market for drug use is not worth the potential legal or PR hassle of endangering their sales to much bigger markets, such as the EU.

      3. “Or maybe the characterisation of Big Pharma that conspiracy theorists and anti vaxxers love so much is actually wrong.”


        These days, with respect to social/political discourse, the sentiment about evil Pharma expressed in your first paragraph* is an example of Why We Can’t Have Nice Things. The world is NOT divided between the evil and the good. It’s a mess, to be sure, but there aren’t two sides. Only the crazies believe there are.

        *note added to defuse the affront; I *know* you juxtaposed these for this reason. IOW, I am agreeing with what I believe is one of your points.

      4. I think you are a bit overly cynical about Big Pharma. They are, after all, in the business of providing medicines intended to improve life. Sometimes, in the interest of profit, the businesses behave corruptly but that is true of all categories of human organizations. They are part of the medical industry, not subsidiaries of the NRA.

        1. I wasn’t trying to be cynical, I was intending to convey scepticism of the trope because of the fact that they don’t sell drugs for executions but clearly my writing ability failed me.

        2. Sometimes, [..], the businesses behave corruptly but that is true of all categories of human organizations

          E.G. the behaviour of Mother Theresa (and many other groups of nuns), as analysed repeatedly by Hitch.

    1. “Even our relatives.”

      My folks voted for Trump again. I called them out on it, telling them among other things “to get their shit together”. I was inflamed when my mother showed me a credit card statement asking me about a couple charges and I saw that on 11/16, nine days after the election was called for Biden, they gave the “save Trump’s presidency campaign” $5,000. They are so very conned- Fox news all day, every day. My mom was furious with my insolence as was my father who called me a bigot, citing a dictionary definition that bigots are also people intolerant of others’ political views. Well fine, Trump is an asshole and his supporters are anti-democratic, deluded, dupes. I’m proud to be a bigot against Trump and his blind followers if that’s the name for it. The thing is, I don’t equate hating Trump to a political statement; I equate it to being a humanitarian.

      I was formulating a response, and I felt it was going pretty well, then realized I was arguing with zealots/cultists where no amount of logic or facts would change their mind. My folks are also “born again” xians, so what’s the use of arguing as it would have only escalated and lead no where? So they get the final word. Either way, I don’t regret a single word of my diatribe; the first and only diatribe I sent them since he was elected. I think I showed good restraint over the last four years; but Trump not conceding the election and seeing my folks buy into his bullshit by giving him $5k to keep fighting just blew my top.

      Sorry about this being WAY off topic…I was determined to comment.

      1. Wow. That’s tough to deal with. My folks are both dead, but they weren’t Republicans of any stripe, although they did vote for Nixon against McGovern, something which I never let them forget. 😉

        1. My first trip into a voting booth was in utero when my mom pulled the lever for Adlai Stevenson against Dwight Eisenhower. The next trip to the booth was 19 and a half years later, after ratification of the 26th Amendment conferred the franchise on 18-year-olds, when my mom and I went back to the same polling place so we could both vote for George McGovern in the Democratic primary.

          Hasn’t been anyone in my family for four generations who’s voted for any but a Democrat for president. “Republican” has long been considered a dirty word in my family. Matter of fact, my sweet, silver-haired grandmother wouldn’t use the word “Republican” if their were children present. She’d call them “those motherfuckers” instead. 🙂

          1. My parents voted for Adlai Stevenson, too. Some kind of paranoid delusion made them afraid of McGovern. That election (’72, for McGovern) was my first vote because when I turned 18 (in ’68) the voting age hadn’t been lowered yet.

      2. My Mom passed this year; but she was a reflexive GOP voter, because my Dad was. We would ask her about how she felt on various specific issues; and she usually agreed with us. We could go on and on on these issues (other than abortion) and she’d agree. But in the end she’d say, “but I’m a conservative” and she would vote GOP all the way. She was no dummy (college degree; both of her parents got college degrees in the 1920s). She was just blinded by the rubbish. Her media input was: Faux News, Rush Limbaugh. We tried to get her to cast a wider net without avail.

        I guess it’s just hard to move true believers. Even when she agreed with us, she’d go right back to her old thoughts.

        The comfort of conservatism: No thought required. All the answers are already laid out for you.

        I remember listening to a rabbi in the jury pool waiting room a few years back: “The answer to all your questions are in the Bible!” (Are you kidding me, in the jury pool room? For shame!) I felt like asking: PC or Mac? 🙂

      3. I was formulating a response, and I felt it was going pretty well, then realized I was arguing with zealots/cultists where no amount of logic or facts would change their mind.

        A phrase I encountered when I first started having to face off creationists when I discovered them dirtying my screen on Compuserve, was that “you can’t reason a person out of a position which they didn’t arrive at by reason”.
        I’m afraid there’s nothing you can do about your parent’s problems. Just be prepared to help them if their shells crack and reality hits them. That can be messy.

      4. My one conservative Republican started out defending him as good for America’s economy. The last four months, it’s ‘the election will be stolen ‘if Trump doesn’t win.’ Last week she forswore FoxNews.

        Yesterday she posted “This sickens me” above a photo of a local bookstore window. It was just a publicity poster for Obama’s latest book.

        She’s an educated woman, a teacher. She manages a feral cat colony in addition to her own inside black cats. I truly don’t understand it.

        Trump is a “cult funnel.” As a certain point, there is nothing that’s going to stop that descent. Your frustration is understandable.

  3. I’ve never understood the death penalty. From my first awareness of it I assumed it would be applied to habitual predators, those who have repeatedly committed heinous crimes. It turned out that instead it could be applied to single offenses, which of course may be blamed on the wrong person and an innocent person is killed.

    Why not the other way?

    1. > Why not the other way?

      I can think of a couple of possible reasons.

      First, some death penalty advocates are okay with innocent people being executed on occasion if it means we can execute the guilty as well. That argument comes down to one’s moral values.

      Second, the death penalty advocate might think we can set a standard of evidence so high as to preclude ever falsely convicting someone. If a serial killer walks into a school and shoots a bunch of kids on camera then in practice there’s no doubt.

      I don’t personally think there should be a death penalty, though. Executing an innocent person isn’t an acceptable tradeoff (contra 1), and we have a fallible human justice system that cannot be trusted to make the determination of guilt correctly every time (contra 2).

  4. From “unknown or deleted user” even though the box saying “save my name, email…” is always checked.

    It’s chilling to contemplate that execution gurney, death bed, as if it’s waiting just for me.

    Perhaps Joseph diGenova was lofting a trial balloon as to how Trump and Barr would really like to execute people, publicly. I’m being a bit facetious, but just a bit, given all the outrageous things those two sanguinary cocksuckers have actually done. He’d have Trump branded executions with merch that even the condemned person would be forced to wear, blood red MAGA cap included. They’d turn them into political rallies for his bloodthirsty followers. Then would come gladiatorial contests between Proud Boys and BLM members, and “Let’s feed Lefties to the Lions” Fridays. Chinese death of a thousand cuts for Asian miscreants. They’d bring back the branks for uppity women, and the Iron Maiden for gays (unnatural penetration). Set dogs on runaway blacks and Indians, the possibilities are endless.

    And Trump himself could be the executioner at these rallies, kinda like Grover Cleveland — the Irish are still angry because he personally pulled the trapdoor on two Irishmen. However, Trump wouldn’t have the scruples that affected Grover Cleveland. Trump would trumpet his powers of murder. We already knows he loves killing people, the more the better because he loves statistics.

    1. The Trump lawyers are really a classy bunch. What do they have to do these days to get debarred? I guess as long as they do not personally pull the trigger they are good. Trump is now killing about 1400/1500 per day with the virus but that is getting boring. He does not miss a day playing golf. Soon they will have the laws changed so they can begin firing civil servants in mass.

    2. Chrissake, Donald Trump (famous for uttering the line “You’re fired” on an (un)reality tv show) can’t even bring himself to fire someone face-to-face in real life. He does it by tweet.

      Trump is in some respects a sadist, but he hasn’t the stomach for doing his own wet work like actually executing a human being. The notion would likely cause his bone spurs to recrudesce.

    3. This year, all he needs do is float the idea of public executions by round-robin:
      stoning, stomping, shooting-to-wound, etc. I bet his followers would approve and volunteer.

      What you propose, I would think be more suitable for the first year of his King-for-Life “re-election.”

    1. Woodchippers work best on deep-frozen corpsicles. At -ahemm- “body temperature”, sinew and cartilage are likely to jam the mechanism, being tough, rather than hard. So you’re pretty likely to end up with the condemned person up to their knees in the wood chipper, jammed, screaming. Slowly bleeding to death (unless someone applies a couple of tourniquets).
      It would certainly get the ratings. “If it bleeds, it leads”, as the saying goes. I doubt it would damage America’s international standing “mulch”.

      1. Perhaps, they could pour liquid nitrogen over them first, or combine that with the woodchipping device somehow, 2-1 freeze-chipping-to-go. Much better than the alternative. Imagine they come off as humane? What’s next, citizens demand paid maternity leave or some other hippy-communist thing?

  5. We call most fervently for the death penalty when our emotions run high. But when our emotions run high we are most prone to make mistakes.
    I’m basically opposed to the death penalty, but there are some arguments in favour, for example: life without parole can be considered as inhumane as the death penalty from several points of view. However, I do not think it trumps the judicial error -or rather the irreversibility thereof- argument.

    1. The thing about life in prison: It’s (mostly) reversible. If it’s discovered that a mistake was made, the person can be freed. I think this alone makes it more advisable.

      1. And prison doesn’t necessarily mean the norms of the US prison system. I think the Finns are on to a much better system. Probably cheaper too given the various programs they have that allow prisoners to usefully contribute to society.

    2. There are, to my mind, also the effects that executions have on society, perhaps more subtle and less immediately tangible, and the effects on those people tasked with being a part of carrying out the executions.

      If I had a choice I would not want to live in a society in which killing of prisoners by the state was normalized. This seems to me to inspire and or support, and or condition people to attitudes of acceptance of violence in general. I don’t see any benefits, only negatives.

      I’ve yet to hear any argument for the death penalty that is convincing to me either pragmatically or emotionally. I have thought of real people that the world would be a better place if they were dead, and I have no problem whatsoever imagining myself wanting someone that has done something heinous to, for example, my children to die. But I’ve already decided that my thirst for rage/grief fueled retribution in such a situation would not suddenly become a good argument in support of the death penalty because I had suddenly become the victim. In such a situation I would rather the society I live in consider me to be incompetent by reason of emotional trauma.

    3. Perhaps it should be up to each individual prisoner to say whether execution is preferable to life without parole. They (almost) always seem to file suits to stop it.

      1. It takes The Innocence Project 10-20 years to free a person wrongfully convicted under the most dubious of circumstances, and openly hostile prosecutors who don’t want their records overturned.

    4. But when our emotions run high we are most prone to make mistakes

      A phrase that has come up repeatedly in the attempts to re-introduce the death penalty in Britain (which I expect will re-surface in the next general election campaign), is that “hard cases make bad laws”.

  6. Then why not hire vets to do the job? I had a vet who couldn’t put down my dying cat, made him suffer more — this a cat specialist, great reviews.

  7. Since I’ve had similar experiences, I believe that death by nitrogen inhalation would be completely painless, at least physiologically. Several times as a youth I passed out via the inhalation of helium, since changing my voice was too fun and there were no warning signs that I should stop. The experience was one of normal lucidity followed by waking up on the ground, with nothing in between – an instant and complete cessation of consciousness. Presumably if I didn’t resume breathing oxygen, it would have simply been lights out.

    Presumably any biologically inert gas (that’s not CO2) would do the job, but nitrogen would be even better than helium because it would betray no sign that the condemned was inhaling it. It’s also cheap and abundant.

      1. Yes. That or just withdraw the oxygen. What causes the “can’t breathe” distress is excess carbon dioxide.

        Compressed nitrogen is dangerous for this reason. I used to keep a nitrogen tank and took it very seriously.

    1. I’ve had friends who have had similar experiences of severe anoxia with unrestricted breathing – during scuba dives with experimental (home built, under re-calibration, etc) re-breathing systems when their CO2 scrubbers continued working but the PPO2 system failed for one of several reasons leaving them with plenty of gas volume but no oxygen. On one occasion, the test was being done “dry” (while watching the telly in the living room).
      Compared with drowning, it’s not an unpleasant way to go. Drowning while conscious is a very un-fun experience.

  8. The fair thing to do is to halt all federal executions pending the new administration. But who ever said that Trump was fair?

    Trump touts himself as a great “sentencing reformer.” And, in fairness, he did sign into law The First Step Act, which increased federal inmates’ gain time and broadened the availability of compassionate release, among other things. And at the behest of a Kardashian (the one married to Kanye, I believe), he also did a good thing in commuting the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, a 63-year-old great grandmother serving life for a non-violent federal drug offense.

    But in almost the same breath, and in addition to the alacrity with which he’s signed death warrants over the past half year, he has urged that the efficient solution for the US’s drug problem would be to follow the examples of his good buddies presidents Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines and Xi Jinping of China by summarily executing anyone convicted of drug dealing (which would have included Ms. Johnson, the prisoner whose sentence he commuted). All of which provides another example of the utter incoherence of the man’s thought processes.

    1. The problems with these condemned people is that their lawyers didn’t call Kim Kardashian. Gotta have a booby-brained reality show star with a padded tuchus to do the job, or is it a tuchus-brained boob-tube booby?

  9. Per George Conway – the administration is essentially doing a number of things that they know Biden will reverse, and that the republicans can then use to make political hay “look he’s soft on crime and punishment”. Simply maximal cynicism rather than any particular intent to follow through on the firing squad.

    May or may not be correct but seems plausible.

  10. The illogic of “humane” execution is worth exploring. We value humane euthanasia for our pets and for suffering, terminally ill, blameless humans, but why for criminals? The two arguments I hear for capital punishment are deterrence and “justice”, which I take to mean retribution. Neither argument is neutral with respect to humane execution. Both logically favor horrific, painful, prolonged executions, and in the case of deterrence, public. The Romans and the English understood this, with crucifixion and drawing and quartering respectively. The modern queasiness around painful execution is an historical aberration. The angels of our better nature are catching up, but aren’t quite there yet.

    1. Don’t know whether it’s fact or lore, but I’ve heard that back in the days when England held public executions (including for the crime of picking pockets) such public executions were a favored place for pickpockets to ply their trade.

      If so, it wouldn’t say much for capital punishment as a deterrent.

      I believe penological studies show that the likelihood of being caught for the crime ranks higher in deterrent effect than the severity of punishment. For all but career-criminal-types, the fear of riding the rap is as great as that of doing the time.

      1. If so, it wouldn’t say much for capital punishment as a deterrent.

        It’s not the punishment that is the deterrent. It’s the probability of getting caught. And that goes back to that Hammurabi bloke, if not further. Back when being peeled with a person-sized cheese grater was a commendable form of punishment.

  11. You’re right about not having the stomach to do his own wet work. But the way he whams balls on the golf course, cause me to start tripping and see his swings as “embodied” freudian metonyms for The Donald as Beheader of Enemies. Golf swings, he can keep his mind on long enough to whack the ball (and still screw up a lot); but even if he could actually kill a person face to face or even at a bit of remove, he couldn’t concentrate long enough on the the job done properly. He’d be fantasizing about his next golf game or Big Mac or twitter rant.

    But it’s the completely amoral, sanguinary disregard for human life, collectively or individually, and the evident desire to kill for his delusions and statistics is such an abomination. Trump and all his minions are like murder hornets.

  12. The exceptionalism of the U.S., bragged about often by high-level deplorables, is probably most notable right here at the disgusting topic of capital punishment. Oddly enough, among ‘western’ countries, Japan (and only it I think) still does this, besides U.S.

    I don’t think the braggarts above are thinking about that when exhibiting their ignorance. If they wished to be exceptional among all, even Muslim countries where it is almost universal, skinning people alive is among the worst vengeances practised by warlords and slavers centuries ago. I better not put ideas into Barr’s and the Mass Murderer’s heads.

      1. I don’t think this is a sign Barr has reached his ethical limit. Rather, it’s a sign he no longer sees Trump as useful to his career. He’ll be inventing bogus legal policy or arguments for someone else in no time. Heritage or Cato maybe in the short run, with an eye towards Pence or another candidate as we near 2024.

  13. This is stuff straight out of the dark ages, and it’s not surprising as this would be deemed an administration straight out of hell, if there were a hell at all. It leads me to think that very sore losers are blood-thirsty and vengeful, and there should be no contemplation of any pardons for this Frankenchief and his ilk.

  14. While I’m unreservedly against capital punishment, I don’t think Jerry can have read his reference to the “Oklahoma Watch” article How nitrogen Executions Could Go Wrong”, which asks: “how to ensure guards and visitors are safe from its toxic fumes”. A staggering statement, considering that the ‘toxic fumes’ account for 78 percent of the air we inhale.

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