Make executions private & low-key

Started by resist, October 03, 2017, 02:05:06 PM

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The capital justice system is effectively sabotaged to the point of existing in name only. To restore it, redesign it to make it less vulnerable to interference.

In Japan, executions are infrequent, but they take place with little opposition or interference. One thing that probably helps is that they are intentionally low-key. They're only announced after the fact, without a lot of negative publicity.

Here are some reforms I would suggest for capital justice in the USA:

  • The drama ends with the verdict, not the sentence or the execution.
  • The sentence is built into the crime. Once convicted of capital crime (eg, "capital murder"), verdict and execution are foregone conclusions. If jury wants to spare the offender, they need option to convict of lesser charge (eg. 2nd degree murder vrs capital murder).
  • Once the verdict is reached, sentence and execution are low-key, administrative processes.
  • No non-essential personnel at the execution. Those present at the execution should be the offender, the executioner, his assistants (to maintain a pool of trained professional executioners), a few guards, prison officer, and optionally one or two victim representatives.
  • Any non-participating witnesses recruited from law enforcement or military, which used to be a common practice. No random unfiltered public.
  • Screen all active participants for any personal profile or psychological issues that would interfere with their ability to participate.
  • Press release written by prison staff using a boilerplate designed to keep it short and avoid emotionally-charged language.

I realize these changes would be resisted, but they'd be resisted precisely because they are necessary to make the process effective.


While your idea seems good in theory, in practice, I doubt it would ever happen.  The thing is that there are no public executions anymore.  The last one in the United States happened in the 1960s.

In the post-Furman era, executions have never been public spectacles.  Only a handful of witnesses are generally on hand for an execution.  Media members, designated public officials, family members of the victim and sometimes, the condemned and others permitted by law.  While the execution itself is definitely carried out of the spotlight, the run up to the execution, dependent upon the circumstances of the crime, is usually pretty noteworthy.

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