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Make It Efficient, Practical, and Humane (**Essay**)

Lethal Injection Versus Electrocution

It was scheduled that inmate Ricky Gray is expected to be executed on March 16, 2016. But, what would happen to his conviction if the lethal injection was no longer an option? The theory of the electric chair is an open discussion, but some Congressmen will argue that it is in violation of the Constitution for being deemed a cruel and unusual of punishment. How can that be when even some of the most well-known states (such as, Arizona, California, and Oklahoma) still legalize demeaning gas chambers? The State of Virginia challenges that notion by proposing a death row bill that will promote the opportunity to explore other choices on how to bring justice when the court system convicts a person to die. The state is trying to get previous techniques re-approved for death row inmates in response to the now crisis of the insufficient stock of deadly chemicals. If the bill provides too much of a controversy, then the Virginian Correctional Facilities will be forced to look for alternative sedatives in order to create a completely new lethal drug formula. One problem still remains as a prominent factor with the passing of this bill is that humanity as a whole does not entirely agree with the Capital Punishment Law. The people would rather see the law be terminated permanently. Even though it may not be the most humane method, the State of Virginia proposes that electrocution can be more efficient and practical than the reliability of obtaining the drugs used for lethal injections.

Americans love practical things. It is one of the basic key values at the core of United States culture. Anything created to do work and aid the needs of keeping an orderly society is considered to be a piece of the “American Dream”. The pharmaceutical manufacturing companies are ceasing their production of lethal injection drugs due to the shortage of the necessary execution substances. Because of this shortage, the idea of bringing back the option of the electric chair seems to fit as a practical replacement. “Now—with the needed drugs in short supply—they are being forced to look at alternatives, sometimes turning to practices that have fallen out of favor” (Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center). Dunham is stating how the correctional systems cannot proceed with the death penalty sentence without the particular medications to complete the job. Natural energy is a resource that will always exist in the world. But as for electricity to be usable, people have tried to obtain it through various different ways. It is a finite resource, hence the reason why our country is desperately searching for renewable energy sources to help sustain us for generations to come. The electric chair can be seen as a favorable choice, because it generates off a supply of energy that is still widely present as long as man still has the current technology to maintain it. Thinking from a scientific point of view, a better form of electrical current to use would be Thomas Edison’s direct current, DC, instead of Nikola Tesla’s alternating current, AC due to the lack of reversing sinusoid waveforms (Welborne, P.E., Professional Electrical Engineer):

[“In the late 1800s and early 1890s there was a war per se between the two men along with George Westinghouse known as the “War of the Currents or “Battle of Currents”. By using Edison’s DC system, this would be more direct and stable form of energy utilize when putting someone to death.” (Welborne P.E.).]

A problem with this theory is the cost for the funding of the electrical transition. The bulk of the money would be coming from taxpayers. AC is readily usable, but a DC system would provide more stable results. DC-based machines are quite possible, i.e. the Metro trains; however, taxpayers would not take kindly to the notion of part of their wages being factored out for executing criminals (Welborne P.E.). This leads to redeeming news on the survival of lethal injections through how desperate States are trying to hire low-end pharmacies for constructing temporary substitutes.

A step higher than practicality in the values of U.S. culture is the fact that Americans love efficiency. Anything that can execute a single task(s) with the top, utmost performance in the least amount of wasteful time is viewed as being ideal for better human living. With the rising issue from the end of lethal injections approaching, correctional centers from other states have already begun looking into substitute drugs that will yield the same effective results. South Dakota, Colorado, and Georgia have already exhausted their supplies, and have taken action in obtaining alternative replacements:

[“…some Departments of Corrections have begun to use compounding pharmacies as a source of those drugs. South Dakota obtained pentobarbital, an anesthetic used in executions, from a compounding pharmacy for the October 15, 2012” (Reprieve, 6/18/13). 

“…the Director of Colorado's Department of Corrections wrote a letter to 97 compounding pharmacies in the state, asking them to provide sodium thiopental for the execution” (The Denver Post, 3/12/13).]

“After Georgia's supply of pentobarbital expired in March 2013, the state announced that it planned to obtain a new supply from a compounding pharmacy…” (Associated Press, 7/11/13).

Compound pharmacies were originally intended for recreational purposes of providing various versions of a certain prescription to meet a specific need for an individual (Death Penalty Information Center). Lately, these pharmacies were recruited to secretly manufacture fatal medications in order to meet these demands of Correctional Systems:

[“Some states have turned to compounding pharmacies as sources of execution drugs. Compounding pharmacies do not face the same approval process for their products that large manufacturers face, leading to concerns about the safety and efficacy of their products” (Death Penalty Information Center).]

Since these companies are working in silence, they are able to slip under the eyes of the Federal Drug Administration. This shows a temporary fix to the problem but raises questions on their efficiency to execute the inmates flawlessly. The electric chair is likely to be considered an efficient tool of execution based on its ability to contribute to the same outcomes for each usage without debating its capability. This would serve as a better solution than to risk Virginia’s reputation through hiring compounding pharmacies. With all these possibilities, it is still proven to be a challenge on agreeing with a single technique when the whole nation is against it from the start.

Humans are beings of non-violence and compassion. Capital punishment is a national law that is rarely approved because it conflicts with the emotions people feel for one another in the terms of ending a life. If a jury sees fit to act out a death sentence, then people would prefer a quick and humane process. A major concern with the possible legalization of this bill is that humans would desire the death penalty be removed completely. “…a 2014 survey by Hart Research and Public Opinion Strategies for NBC News in which 1 in 3 people said that if lethal injection was off the table, executions should be halted” (Dunham). People greatly oppose the death penalty, but still unitedly approve of the lethal injection over its competition. If the injection cannot be properly utilized, then society would vote that the inmate(s) spend the rest of their lives in prison. There are numerous ideas in this country on how to bring about the death sentence. But inevitably, humans will always search for a manner that is humane with their personal views, and successful in getting the assignment completed with no uncertainties.

Countries around the world are subjecting their inmates to hanging, public stoning, a firing squad, and beheading. Although beheading is quick (some may even argue that it is painless), it will definitely stir up a morally-conflicted rage within the confines of America. Compared to previous modes of death, the electric chair would be effective in condemning an individual. When the lethal injections fully cease to exist, the practicality standings of the electric chair are being reviewed over on becoming the main backup strategy. Electrocution is further beneficial and efficient with fitting into the societal idolized “American Dream”, because electricity is a prominent source currently in the world. The reality of humanity’s standards of humane punishments may eventually lead to the abolishment of the capital punishment law entirely. The state of Virginia has its work cut out for them with the endorsement of this bill if jurors keep sanctioning people to die, because once the injections run dry then they need a new approach on execution. Electrocution is a modern version of justice-induced killing that serves its purpose versus trying to revert back to ancient, barbaric practices.

Works Cited

Dunham, Robert. “News: Lacking injections, Va. Might turn to electric chair.” News Leader, Washington Post: Matt Zapotosky, Jenna Portnoy, and Laura Vozzella. 02/13/2016. http://www.newsleader.com/story/news/2016/02/13/lacking-injections-va-might-turn-electric-chair/80363530/ (accessed February 18, 2016). Web.

Welborne, Robert. “Re: Electric Chair Paper.” E-mail to Robyn Welborne. February 23, 2016. Web.

Reprieve. Death Penalty Information Center. 06/18/2013. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/compounding-pharmacies (accessed February 18, 2016). Web.

The Denver Post. Death Penalty Information Center. 03/12/2013. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/compounding-pharmacies (accessed February 18, 2016). Web.

Associated Press. Death Penalty Information Center. 07/11/2013. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/compounding-pharmacies. (accessed February 18, 2016). Web. 

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