This past Friday, the day before our state began a weekend-long celebration of the "Oklahoma Standard," a phrase popularized by Sam Presti to describe the resilience and compassion Oklahomans show to one another when dealing with tragedy, Governor Mary Fallin signed into law a new and improved way to execute people.
Oklahoma adopted a new backup method of execution Friday, making nitrogen gas the way it will execute inmates if lethal injection cannot be utilized.Gov. Mary Fallin (R) signed the law Friday, less than two weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear a case challenging the way lethal injections are carried out in Oklahoma.This change makes Oklahoma the third state over the last year to substantially alter its methods of execution amid an ongoing shortage of lethal injection drugs. However, the two other states to change their execution protocols expanded the use of backup options that were already in place: Utah made firing squads the default alternative last month, while Tennessee did the same thing with the electric chair; both methods had been available for some inmates, depending on when they were sentenced.As the drug shortage has persisted in recent years, states with capital punishment have considered reviving older methods, but most of these suggestions have gone nowhere. Unlike the laws in Utah and Tennessee, the new Oklahoma law is the first time a state has added a method that was not already on the books...“Oklahoma executes murderers whose crimes are especially heinous,” Fallin said in a statement after signing the bill. “I support that policy, and I believe capital punishment must be performed effectively and without cruelty. The bill I signed today gives the state of Oklahoma another death penalty option that meets that standard.”
I can't believe I'm about to write this, but I agree with Mary Fallin on this one. I'm all for the death penalty when the "crimes are especially heinous." For example, when some asshole bombs our city and kills 168 people, or rapes and murders a baby, or shoots up a Sirloin Stockade, I have no problem executing the lunatic.
That being said, if Mary really believes "capital punishment must be performed effectively and without cruelty," why did she go with an experimental, never-tried-before procedure like nitrogen gas? I know she wants our state to be innovative and on the leading edge of discovering new ways to execute people, but I think the firing squad should be the new Oklahoma standard for carrying out capital punishment.
Here are a few reasons why:
1. It's quick and relatively painless. Well, it may hurt for a few seconds.
2. It would appeal to the NRA and all the gun nuts out there. We could even have a lottery where people can apply to be on the firing squad. That would probably raise a lot of money.
3. Firing squads are more our style. Unlike executions via nitrogen gas, firing squads do not require a fundamental understanding of chemistry and science.
4. In the history of the modern world, I don't think a firing squad has ever botched an execution. Maybe that's why we're not going this route. We don't want to be the first state to screw it up.
Of course, that's just my opinion. I also think people who are accused of murder should get a fair trial, and that we should be 100% super-duper sure of their guilt before convicting them, so what do I know.